PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte did not veto nor did he sign the Revised Baguio City Charter Act, but he allowed thirty days to pass and so Republic Act 11689 became a law last April 11.

“Republic Act 11689 will amend the historic American-era charter after over 100 years, and will cater to the present needs of the city and its people,” said Baguio Rep. Mark Go, main author of the bill.

“Including provisions consistent with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, RA 11689 aspires to shape the City as a resilient, sustainable, inclusive, and livable city, using innovative means to improve the quality of life while cultivating respect for the City’s history, cultural heritage, and environmental protection,” he added.

Majority of the city council made a last-ditch appeal to President Duterte to veto RA 11689, citing lack of consultation among others.

The so-called TROPA councilors led by Councilors Mylen Yaranon, Isabelo Cosalan, and Art Allad-iw insisted  that the bill should pass through a plebiscite as it means the future of the city. 

They also wanted the 19 conditionalities proposed by their peers in 1994 to be considered for the Camp John Hay area. 

“The holding of a plebiscite is not required according to the Local Government Code (RA 7160) and the prevailing jurisprudence. The Revised Charter does not seek to create, divide, or abolish a local government unit, nor does it substantially alter the boundaries of the city which would have necessitated a plebiscite. The Revised Charter even expressly provides that “The City shall comprise the present territorial jurisdiction of the City,” Go said in a statement.

Allad-iw said of the lack of consultation,  the locals will be affected by the change. He stated that this is a violation of the constitutional rights of the people, especially regarding environmental and ancestral issues. 

The councilors said that they were made aware that the bill was on its way to being passed only last March 7 when Hon. Sec Luzverfeda E. Pascual, acting presidential adviser on legislative affairs, presented the contents of the proposed amendment to the existing Baguio City Charter and informed the body that HB 8882 was already an enrolled bill.

About the 19 conditionalities, Go said, “It was discussed and agreed upon during the Senate meetings that the separation of the 13 barangays within the Camp John Hay Reservation need not be contained in the City Charter. The Revised Charter will not affect the rights of the 13 barangays and another bill shall be filed for their separation. If necessary, an amendatory bill shall be crafted to safeguard the provisions of Resolution No. 362 that would provide mechanisms for this purpose.”

He said that the BCDA may choose to ignore the 19 conditionalities set by the council as this was not mandated in the BCDA charter.

He also said that the previous congressmen of the city including Bernardo Vergara, Mauricio Domogan and Nicasio Aliping also had their own versions of the Revised City Charter.

Those of Domogan and Vergara failed to make it past their committees while that of Vergara was vetoed because of the provision on Camp John Hay.

“The Revised Baguio City Charter is a product of multiple consultations and extensive deliberations. The contents of the Revised Baguio City Charter, and the records of Both House of Representatives and the Senate clearly show that substantive and procedural due process were observed in the drafting and approval of the measure,” Go said.