November 29, 2023

It was my first time to attend a meeting of the City Development Council (CDC) in lieu of president Fred Bagbagen of the Baguio Museum Inc. I was a little hesitant but nevertheless eager to see and hear what the meeting was all about. What was there to develop amidst the pandemic? It turned out to be a report of Mayor Benjie Magalong about the pandemic cases in Baguio and the Cordillera and a review of the 2021 Annual Investment Program (AIP).
The new cases included a 10-year-old boy.
One of Covid’s mode of transmission is via money exchange, hence the city is working on a “cashless” method of payment.
The mayor also reported on the efforts of the city to obtain donations for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines.
Polymerase chain reaction is a laboratory technique used to make multiple copies of a segment of DNA. It is precise and can be used to amplify, or copy, a specific DNA target from a mixture of DNA molecules.
One PCR test cost about P3,200 and Baguio now processes about 2,000 tests per day. The city has already produced about 21,000 PCR results and 40,000 more test kits are coming enabling Baguio to share with its neighboring municipalities. The availability of these kits is one of the reasons why Baguio is on the right tack.
He also mentioned the ongoing inspection of vertical infrastructure projects. He stated that a lot of these projects are sub-standard and the city is working hard to correct the contractor’s deficiencies.
The report was given prior to the presentation for approval of the vision and mission statements of Baguio and the review of the 2021 AIP by the City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Buildings and Architecture Office, and City Engineering Office identifying the priority projects.
The mayor said the tourism industry lost about P2.1 billion in terms of revenues spread over the last five months. A sad reality since Baguio’s major industry is tourism and education. With everything at a standstill, there is a call for more compassion amid loses. Known food establishments are closing because of the Covid-19. The new normal is home service and food delivery. The Burnham Park project is on hold.
He also revealed that Tourism Sec. Bernadette Puyat is helping the city obtain a loan from the Asian Development Bank for the development of Burnham Park. He prays that there will be no more second wave of Covid-19 and the tentative schedule for the opening of Baguio to tourism will come in September. This will all depend on developments. My thoughts, how does Covid-19 revenue losses compare to the losses of the 1990 earthquake or the 2005 meningococcemia?
With the presentation of Baguio’s vision and mission, the mayor reiterated for efficient and effective governance inspite of the pandemic. This will be complemented by improved technology. He advised barangays to choose big ticket priority projects with high strategic impact and how low budgeted projects can be clustered.
The CDC approved provisionally the 2021 AIP subject to the technical review and revision of the executive committee. The inputs will be submitted to the CDC via electronic mail, for the final review and ratification of the city council.
The opening of classes scheduled on Aug. 24, will not have face-to-face interaction.
The Cepmo, CEO and CBAO also presented the 2019 and 2020 status of AIP projects.
By and large, it was a good meeting. Physical distancing was observed including the wearing of masks and it started on time.