Magalong’s 2nd term mission: Save Baguio from urban decay

Magalong’s 2nd term mission: Save Baguio from urban decay

Mayor Benjamin Magalong during his inauguration as second-term chief executive on June 30 has reaffirmed his mission to save the city from hurtling towards urban decay.

In his speech, the mayor called for a “change of mindset” to veer away from old destructive ways that have been compromising the environment and upsetting the city’s carrying capacity.

“We have to come to terms now with difficult realities and decisions that will require all of us to adjust and to change the usual way of doing things.  We have to divest ourselves from “nakasanayan gaminen”, from “kastoy met idi”, from “nagbiit lang idi”.  It is about time that we need to change that old mindset because if we are not going to act now, urban decay will be irreversible,” he stressed.

He said results of the 2019 urban carrying capacity study showed the city has breached its natural carrying capacity of its environment and that urban decay had manifested starting 20 years ago.

The study showed the following:

  • We have breached the carrying capacity threshold of our Urban Road Area in 1988 as the standard allocation of 40 sqm per person is now at 20 square meters.  
  • In 1994, solid waste collection exceeded the 52,000 metric ton capacity and now, 95,000 metric tons are being collected costing the government P133 million per year.  
  • In 2002, our demand for water exceeded supply.  Our standard of 18.5 cu.m. of water per person is now only at 14.5 cu.m.  
  • On liquid waste management, our problem started in 2007 when our sewage treatment plant started operating beyond its 8,500 cu.m. per day capacity.  
  • Our open spaces have diminished starting 2008. Land for development in the City had been reduced significantly starting in 2010.  
  • Our forest cover is now at 22.68 percent down from 30 percent in 2012. Busol water from 82 hectares is now left with 45 hectares and Buyog from 19 hectares to just 7 hectares.  The green cover has also diminished starting 2016.

The mayor said they are currently developing ways and strategies to overcome and mitigate the problem.

“The challenge is not to just reverse urban decay but to root out the causes, implement immediate and strategic solutions and eventually put us on track toward the Better Baguio we long for,” he said.

He said they are exploring what would be its best strategy for population management vis-à-vis the plan to become a livable city which is the first step to putting back allowable densities in the different parts of the City.  

“We are currently auditing the city, its people and resources, in order to develop a viable and equitable solution through an updated land use and zoning code,” he said.

“We developed a digital twin of the city. A digital twin is a dynamic, up-to-date virtual model of the physical assets of the City. This virtual environment shall be the platform where planning, decision-making, and community engagements for the future will take place,” the mayor added

He urged the cooperation of all sectors: “Only when we come together with the 4-Cs of good governance — cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication — would we be able to solve the City’s problems. We, altogether, need to be proactive and accepting for a much-needed transformation.”  

He said his 16-point core agenda continue to be his blueprint in achieving the mission: Speeding up Government Actions; Revitalizing the Environment; Innovating Peace and Order Condition; Aggressive Traffic Management; Responsive Education Programs; Empowering the Youth; Expanding Health and Social Services; Responsible Tourism; Enlivened Culture, Arts, Crafts, and Heritage; Market Modernization; Efficient Disaster Management; Empowered and Accountable Barangay Governance; Strengthened Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Services; Poverty Reduction; Resolution of Indigenous People Land Issues; and Happiness.

“The impact of our actions may not be felt in the short term, but then again, it is for the quality of life of the young people, our children and our children’s children, that we are working for.  This should be our legacy to the next generation,” he said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo