February 28, 2024

Some city councilors pointed more deficiencies in the revised charter of Baguio, among which is the long-planned merger of the 128 barangays.

During the Aug. 18 special session of the city council, Councilor Peter Fianza said the revised city charter contained a provision on the consolidation of barangays but a review of the charter showed more deficiencies, and some are not even consistent with national laws such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

As the filing of certificates of candidacy for the barangay elections begins tomorrow, Aug. 28, the earlier plan of the technical working group that the 128 barangays should have been trimmed to 33 prior to the elections in October has not been implemented as planned after the task force formed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong had to do a cost-benefit analysis on the merger.

At the city council, a proposed ordinance has been submitted at the council to trim the number of barangays with the condition that before the holding of a plebiscite, information campaign and consultations has to be conducted.

The National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government wrote the mayor last year, urging the city government to pursue the merger in view of the implementation of the devolution transition plan.

The NBOO said that merged barangays will receive a bigger share from the national tax allotment (formerly internal revenue allotment) and could save from the reduced cost of personal services, which can be used for new plans, programs, and activities.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that of the total number of barangays, only 15 has a population of between 5,001 to 15,000; one with over 15,000; 35 with bet-ween 2,001 to 5,000; 66 with between 501 to 2,000; eight with below 500; and four with less than 100.

The recommended minimum population to constitute a barangay is 5,000.

The NBOO said it favors and encourages Baguio and other local government units nationwide to pursue merger for a more viable, sustainable, and efficient management of barangay operations. – Rimaliza A. Opiña