December 1, 2023

Baguio Rep. Mark Go has issued clarifications on the issues earlier raised at the city council regarding the city’s revised charter, specifically the provisions claimed to be with “gross errors”.

Saying he did not evade the council’s invitation for him to appear before the members to clarify the provisions of the new charter, Go addressed in a statement each of the concerns raised by the body.

He said the concerns are already addressed in the bill he filed to amend the revised charter. Republic Act 11689 is Baguio’s new charter.

On the alleged provision that requires the council secretary to submit city ordinances to the Benguet provincial board for review, Go said the revised charter does not mandate the application of Sections 56 and 57 of the Local Government Code (LGC) to the actions of the city council.

“The original bill states that the secretary to the sanggunian shall take charge of the office of the sangguniang panlungsod and shall perform such duties and functions and exercise such powers are provided under the LGC,” the statement read.

Go also clarified the provision that supposedly expanded the coverage area of the Bases Conversion Development Authority to 625 hectares is the same area that was re-cognized in the previous proposals to amend the city charter.

But he said the new law qualifies the BCDA area will be subject to final survey. “With the inclusion of the phrase, any discrepancy between the figure, 6,254,104 square meters, and the actual total land area of the Camp John Hay reservation can easily be resolved in favor of the actual area resulting from a subsequent final survey.”

Go also allayed the fears of the 13 barangays due for segregation from the John Hay reservation, saying safeguards are in place to ensure their welfare and interests are protected.

He reiterated the segregation of the 13 barangays will be covered by a separate bill, which he said is being finalized by his office.

The territorial boundaries of Baguio City was also clearly spelled out in the original bill he filed, but he said, “The House Committee on Local Government decided to remove the metes and bounds and replaced it with ‘the present territorial jurisdiction of the city’ to preserve current territorial boundaries without prejudice to the final resolution of any boundary disputes.”

“It was a collegial decision of the members of the House Committee and the Senate agreed that the version would sufficiently protect the territorial claim of Baguio,” Go added.

On the conduct of a plebiscite, which is also among the things being requested before the new charter is implemented, Go said such undertaking is not required by the LGC.

He said the holding of a plebiscite, which is mandated by the LGC, is for the creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units.

“The revised Baguio charter neither creates, divides, merges, or abolishes any local government, nor does the revised charter substantially alter the boundaries of Baguio City,” Go said.

The solon added he has already met with Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, and members of the city council to clarify their issues and concerns about the new charter.

He said it was also agreed that the council submits its proposals to the bill that seeks to amend RA 11689 on or before July 24 and for them to again meet on Aug. 4. – Jane B. Cadalig