December 4, 2022

The revised version of the 112 years old charter of Baguio City drafted by then Justice George A. Malcolm is now a law.

The new charter, now known as Republic Act 11689, authored by Rep. Marquez Go lapsed into law on April 11.

It took close to two decades, three presidents, and three representatives of Baguio before the revised charter has been approved.

The versions of the revised charter filed by former Reps. Mauricio Domogan and Nicasio Aliping, Jr. were vetoed by then Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III. 

Salient provisions of RA 11689 include restructuring of the personnel structure of the city government, creation of a special committee on lands, subdivision survey of alienable and disposable lands,  and segregation of Camp John Hay from the Baguio townsite reservation.

The charter also included the Baguio Tourism Council, Baguio Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Sister Cities Committee, Character City Committee, Traffic and Transportation Management Committee, Office of the Local Zoning Officer, City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, City Solid and Liquid Waste Management Board, City Market Authority, Baguio Creative Council, Smart City Council, and other bodies which may be created in pursuit of the sustainable development goals , to local policy-making boards.

The revised charter also created new departments that will focus on disaster risk reduction and management, tourism, public information, agriculture, population, cooperatives, solid and liquid waste management, and traffic and transportation.

These offices are currently divisions under the Mayor’s Office, City Administrator’s Office, City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Engineering Office, City Veterinary and Agriculture Office, the City Engineering Office, and City Health Services Office.

The revised charter also states that there will remain a lone congressional district for Baguio. 

Implementing guidelines has to be formulated before implementation of the revised charter. Supporting ordinances specifically on the creation of new departments and conduct of land surveys will also have to be passed.

The city council earlier expressed its misgivings about the then House Bill 8882.

In a resolution, members of the council asked President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill as some provisions are contrary to the sentiments of the people of Baguio such as the segregation of Camp John Hay from the Baguio townsite reservation. They said this can affect the segregation of barangays within the CJH reservation.

The city council also pointed out that the boundaries of Baguio have not been defined in the charter and the creation of new departments entail allotment of additional funds.

Go has assured that the concerns of the city council will be contained in the law’s IRR. – Rimaliza A. Opiña