June 17, 2024

The issues raised about the revised charter of Baguio specifically about the absence of a plebiscite that will involve the people of Baguio in charting its course for the next 100 years or more deserve a second look by its author.
As recent events showed, the city council and Rep. Marquez Go are now at odds with the former claiming that had there been enough consultation, matters about the city’s boundary with adjoining municipalities, the organizational structure of the local government, and ancestral land issues, among others, would have been addressed prior to it becoming into law.
The Baguio representative, on the other hand, said there were proper consultations by both the House and Senate committees in charge of polishing the bill prior to its submission to the Office of the President.
The matter has become a “the council said-the congressman said” issue with nothing resolved and the constituents waiting for what and how a revised charter will benefit them in the short and long term.
The revised charter is not entirely defective. There is still hope the deficiencies can be addressed as long as the parties involved, especially our esteemed legislators in the local and national level, will open the lines of communication to avoid incidents such as submitting last-minute appeals to have the charter vetoed.
The lawmaker has recently filed an amendment to the charter that seeks to address the issues raised by some members of the city council, as well as by other stakeholders.
The city council has raised about the supposed lack of transparency in the consultations. This time, we hope the Office of the Congressman, in coordination with the Office of the Vice Mayor, will devise ways by which there will be a continuing exchange of ideas so that by the time the amendments are submitted to the plenary, inputs from the ground will be included.
It is imperative that all stakeholders come together to find a consensus that not only secures the city’s future but also preserves the essence of what makes this mountain resort a beloved destination for generations to come.
We always highlight public participation and consultation on matters that affect the present and future generations such as the revised city charter to ensure the charter is representative of the needs and aspirations of its residents. It is through dialogue and inclusive decision-making processes that the charter can address concerns, gather valuable insights, and find common ground that benefits the city and its residents as a whole.
It is also not too late to consider calling a plebiscite, albeit this might be a tall order considering the huge expense such activity would entail. But in order to gauge what the people of Baguio truly want, a plebiscite is needed.
It took several presidents before we finally had our over 100-year-old charter updated. It will be a waste if during the implementation, more questions than answers surface. Worse, the people of Baguio cannot fully realize the benefits because of matters that are not addressed. We will never move on if this is the case.