City Officials bares Baguio’s inconvenient truth, Presents Recovery-Resiliency Plan

BAGUIO CITY  –  (March 18, 2021)  –  Arch. Donna Tabangin, City Planning and Development Coordinator, revealed alarming figures about the city’s current state concerning its environmental carrying capacity.

Further, she presented the City’s work-in-progress Recovery and Resiliency Plan aimed at reactivating the city from the damages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time curbing the impending urban decay and other prevailing problems which were existent before the pandemic.

In a public consultation on March 11-12, Tabangin presented the study conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) projecting the exponential growth of the population in the city against its environmental carrying capacity.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic (2018-2019), the city had a daytime population of 650,000 and a night time population of 378,000 while a whooping 1,536,458 was recorded yearly taking into account visitors during the city’s peak tourist season.

The city’s population will transcend the 600,000 mark by Year 2043 as projected by NEDA’s study.

Based on the said study, the city’s escalating population through the decades has already breached the thresholds for its environmental carrying capacity a long time ago. 

To have a desirable and decent living condition based on the standards set by the United Nations/other Asian countries/national agencies, an individual is entitled to have a 110 sqm land for settlement/development and a 0.15m3 water supply per day.

20 sqm is allotted per person for open spaces; 40 sqm per person for urban roads; 80 sqm per person for green covers; and 40sqm per person for forest covers.

Moreover, a limit of 0.03m3 liquid waste treatment is set for each person per day and a limit of 0.24MT collected solid waste for each person per year.

The NEDA study reveals that all of these set standards have been getting compromised in Baguio City since 2010 (lands for development), 2002 (water supply), 2008 (open spaces), 1988 (urban roads), 2016 (green covers), 2012 (forest covers), 2007 (liquid waste treatment), and 1994 (collected solid waste).

“This is our inconvenient truth. We are exceeding our environmental capacity. But it is not too late for us to act and put into place mitigating measures. As we co-create and co-plan our path towards resiliency and recovery, we jump off from our experience with the pandemic and at the same time look into solving environmental problems and the errors of urban planning,” Tabangin assured.

“An urban decay may happen, and we need to take action. As we solve problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we might as well solve problems that had long existed. Otherwise, they will continue to negatively impact us. These are the problems that will last longer and affect us harder than the pandemic,” the CPDO chief explained. “We want a life that is way better than the life we had before the pandemic hit us.”

The recovery and resiliency plan prepared by the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) is a three-fold plan that includes flagship projects addressing the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the urban and environmental problems that continue to confront the city, and our disasters risks.

Among the environmental concerns presented, the planning officer put more emphasis on solid waste management. Aside from promoting an environmentally-responsible consumer behavior among the citizens by adopting the principles of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), she disclosed that the city government is slowly studying and working toward a shift to a circular economic framework where waste production can be turned into an economic investment. Possible partnerships with private companies are being considered for the realization of the city’s waste-to-energy project.

Problems arising from land issues and urban development, according to Tabangin, will be resolved through the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the  Zoning Ordinance which are currently undergoing a major revamp and through the crafting of appropriate policies both in the legislative and executive levels of the city government.

Since Baguio City is disaster-prone just like the rest of the region, projects and mitigating measures in preparation for natural disasters are being mainstreamed into the recovery and resiliency plan. The City finished the first version of its Climate and Disaster Risk Assessment and is gearing up for its validation.

Under the said recovery and resiliency plan, the following are the flagship projects which are classified into different components:

Health – vaccine procurement; COVID-19 communication campaign; and crafting of local policies anchored on universal health care;

Restarting the Economy – improvement/development of parks; public market redevelopment; construction of satellite markets; entrepreneurship development, local economic development, MSME support; start-ups support; formalizing the informal economy; academe-industry collaboration; ease of doing business; and the establishment of a creative economy;

Rejuvenating the Environment – urban regreening program and urban agriculture; water and sanitation improvement; improved solid waste management; waste-to-energy project;

Mobility Improvement – Mobility Plan for cars, pedestrians, and bicycles; road and sidewalk improvement; construction of a central terminal; low carbon vehicles; public utility jeepney rationalization; traffic signalization system; construction of parking buildings;

Redevelopment/Adjustment, Safer and Smart City – updating of the CLUP, zoning, disaster and climate change action plans; low-cost housing development; smart cities, fibertization, enhanced internet connectivity; early warning systems; construction of barangay hall and evacuation centers; and enhancing BLISTT cooperation; and

Socio-Cultural Development – construction of a youth convergence center and sports complex; establishment of a cultural arts and heritage center; digital/online learning; cultural mapping; and community-based monitoring system.

Two components of the plan (good governance, leadership and transparency and whole-of-society approach) remain a continuing agenda.

During the two-day public consultation, representatives from government agencies, non-government organizations, local government units of LISTT (La Trinidad, Itogon, Tuba, and Tublay), environmental advocates, livelihood associations, barangays, the transport sector, the academe, and the private sector participated in brainstorming activities to share their recommendations to enhance the city’s recovery and resiliency plan.

The said public consultation was initiated by the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Baguio through the office of Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan enjoining concerned stakeholders to collaborate with the city government for the completion and enhancement of the said plan.

The participants will again convene for the presentation and approval of the final plan.

𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘵𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘦: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘌𝘋𝘈 𝘌𝘯𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘉𝘢𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘰 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘣𝘺 𝘊𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘻𝘢 𝘐𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘴𝘺𝘴 𝘊𝘰𝘳𝘱. 𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘋𝘳. 𝘊𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘰 𝘊𝘢𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘥�� 𝘑𝘳., 𝘋𝘳. 𝘎𝘭𝘢𝘥𝘺𝘴 𝘕𝘢𝘷𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘰, 𝘈𝘳. 𝘋𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘢 𝘛𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘯, 𝘋𝘳. 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘬 𝘋𝘦 𝘎𝘶𝘻𝘮𝘢𝘯, 𝘋𝘳. 𝘊𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘻𝘰𝘯 𝘑𝘰𝘴𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘧. 𝘝𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦 𝘉𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘯 𝘑𝘳. (2019)

-Jordan G. Habbiling