01 July 2021 – City officials recently submitted to the technical working group of the Senate committee on local government their respective comments and recommendations on Senate Bill (SB) 2163 or the proposed bill that seeks to revise the city’s century-old city charter.

Under Resolution No. 329, series of 2021, signed by Major Benjamin b. Magalong, local legislators stated that the Senate should consider the city’s mission and vision aside from including quality education and creative city as among the objectives of the city.

Further, the phrase ‘to make the City of Baguio a home of responsible and happy people dynamic and diverse culture’ and to include the development of a vibrant and progressive market.

On the city’s territorial boundary, the council proposed to request the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to provide a technical description of the jurisdiction of the city and the cadastral surveys shall be submitted for the consideration of the group.

The council added that the composition of the sectoral representatives shall be in conformity with the Local Government Code.

It was also recommended that a committee on indigenous peoples affairs shall be created as part of the standing committees of the local legislative body to operationalize provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

According to the resolution, the role and significance in local governance should be specified, thus, barangays shall be included in the revised charter as the units for local governance and that barangays are only given small recognition under the said proposal.

The council also reiterated the inclusion of the creation of an Advisory Council consisting of 5 Igorots pursuant to the original version of the City Charter of 1909.

On the other hand, the council suggested that the declaration of certain lands in the city as mineral lands shall be repealed as affected barangays such as Atok Trail, Happy Hallow, Mines view, Pucsusan, Lucnab, Kias, and Loakan-Apugan cannot apply for titles of the lands due to the classification of their lands as mineral lands and to consider the issues on human settlement in military reservations and that the proposed housing and settlement board may solve the problem on squatting.

Moreover, the aforesaid board will also be empowered to recognize and review the ancestral land claims and that the IPRA should be included as a basis for the issuance of titles as there are ancestral land claims that are within alienable and disposable lands, thus, there must be expressed recognition of already issued certificate of ancestral land titles which are outside of any proclamation or watershed reservations.

The council claimed that watersheds shall remain to be forest reservations even within the jurisdiction of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and it shall remain as watershed reservations and that the local government shall be in charge of the same.

The body proposed for a review on the basis of the 6,254,145 square meters as the total land area of camp John hay as the BCDA Act of 1997, the total land area of the same is only 570 hectares. – Dexter A. See