THE Baguio City Council’s Committee on Laws, Human Rights, and Justice conducted a preliminary meeting to lay the groundwork for the extensive review of the Revised Baguio City Charter (Republic Act No. 11689).
Councilor Peter Fianza, chairperson of the committee, said the first step is to conduct a massive information dissemination campaign to get the public involved in this endeavor. He explained that it is important to let stakeholders understand the need to thoroughly examine the provisions of RA No. 11689 which lapsed into law on April 11, 2022.
Different stakeholders including members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, barangay officials, indigenous peoples groups in the city, and scholars in the academe will be furnished copies of the Revised City Charter. They will be advised to write their position papers to be consolidated and studied by the city council. A series of consultations will also be held to solicit public opinion.
Joining Fianza in the preliminary meeting were Councilors Jose Molintas, Fred Bagbagen, Elmer Datuin, Arthur Allad-iw, and Mylen Victoria Yaranon who expressed willingness to be part of the working group tasked to facilitate the public consultations and the consolidation of people’s comments and suggestions.
This is part of the effort of the city council to correct certain provisions of the Revised City Charter after its failed attempt to convince former President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill.
In its resolution requesting the veto of House Bill No. 8882, the city council enumerated some critical points.
The resolution pointed out the “ambiguity” of the territorial boundaries of the city as indicated in Section 3 of the bill. It claimed that this section does not indicate the exact metes and bounds of the City of Baguio which is supposed to be a “vital provision” of the city charter. It said there is a need to include a provision in the charter containing the definite metes and bounds of the city, taking into consideration the city’s land disputes with the adjoining municipalities.
The resolution also assailed the bill for stating that the sales shall go to the coffers of the national government. Under the original city charter, the said proceeds shall be remitted to the City Treasury Office to finance the A.O 504 Clearing Committee for the processing of clearances of applications for land titling.
Likewise, the resolution claimed that the bill would undermine Resolution 362-1994 which contains the 19 conditionalities set by the city government in the formulation of the Master Development Plan for Camp John Hay to be complied with by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
The resolution also asserted that a plebiscite must be conducted to involve the people of Baguio City, considering that the revisions are “substantial.”
Lastly, the resolution raised concern about the “discrepancy” between the new city charter and the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 on the land area of the Camp John Hay Reservation.
The councilors said another important concern that needs to be addressed is the issue of ancestral lands and ancestral domains in the city.
Earlier, the city council urged the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) to examine RA No. 11689 and find out whether its provisions support the processing of ancestral land titles in the city or “erase” the rights of the Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domain.
The schedule for the first official public consultation will be announced soon. – Jordan G. Habbiling