April 22, 2024

Baguio Rep. Mark Go has filed a bill seeking to amend the revised city charter, which lapsed into law only last year.
The proposed amendments involve Sections 23, 50, and 52 of Republic Act 11689, or mostly those concerning the disposal of alienable and disposable lands in Baguio.
Section 50 of RA 11689 recognizes the authority of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources to award lands within the Baguio townsite reservation through residential free patent, townsite sales, and other modes of disposition.
In the proposed amendment, townsite sales applications shall be jointly cleared by the DENR and the city government. Proceeds from townsite or miscellaneous sales shall accrue to the city government and a portion to the DENR for operating expenses.
Section 52, which created a special committee on lands to assist the DENR in the resolution of land-related cases, specified that the John Hay Management Corporation designated as co-chair of the committee has been amended that the JHMC’s function is those related to land claims within Camp John Hay only.
Section 23 concerns the appointment of the secretary to the sangguniang panlungsod.
The city council was supposed to discuss the proposed amendments in its special session on May 2, but this was deferred pending update from the Office of the Congressman.
The city council and some stakeholders have raised issues about the charter such as the basis of the revised charter in increasing the area of Camp John Hay to 625 hectares from the previous 570 hectares; the alleged lack of public consultation before the charter was submitted to the plenary; and how the revised charter addresses the territorial boundary disputes between Baguio and the neighboring Benguet towns of Tuba and Itogon.
Other concerns raised in recent public dialogues were how the new charter addresses the issues of indigenous peoples and their long-sought clamor for full recognition of their ancestral land claims, especially the contentious provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that provides land ownership in Baguio should be through TSA. – Rimaliza A. Opiña