Senate approves bill revisiting 112-year old Baguio City charter for sustainable development

Senate approves bill revisiting 112-year old Baguio City charter for sustainable development

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading a
bill revising the 112-year-old charter of Baguio City with a vote of
23 affirmative, no negative, and no abstention.

Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino, sponsor of House Bill No. 8882 or the
Revised Charter of the City of Baguio, said with this measure, Baguio
City promises to continue its legacy as a symbol of enduring progress
and rich history in the country.

“As one of the most loved cities by Filipinos and foreign tourists,
Baguio City, through its revised charter, will surely secure
sustainable progress that will redound not just to the benefit of
Baguio residents but the entire country as well, most especially its
indigenous people’s community,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino, as chairman of the Committee on Local Government, held
hearings in Baguio and worked closely with the authors of the bill,
Reps. Mark Go and Allen Jesse Mangaoang, as well as local officials of
Baguio led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and all stakeholders from the
private sector and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Tolentino said this version is “probably the best one yet crafted,”
adding that the current version of the measure with amendments ensures
the sustainable development of Baguio City while preserving the rights
of the indigenous people enshrined under Republic Act (RA) No. 8371 or
the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997.

The bill, which revises the 112-year-old city charter, seeks to create
new offices within the structure of the city government, including the
addition of a City Environment and Parks Management Officer, City
Planning and Sustainable Development Officer, and the City Traffic and
Transportation Management Officer.

The bill also seeks to institutionalize the generation of renewable
energy from waste through waste-to-energy and other technologies
consistent with RA No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management
Act and RA No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

The city government, in coordination with the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources, the National Water Resources Board,
and the Baguio City Water District, is also mandated to protect,
conserve, develop, and substantially manage its forest lands and
watersheds.
Once enacted into law, councils such as the City Creative Council,
Smart City Council, E-Governance Council, and other bodies will be
created in pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development
Goals.

The original charter of the city was crafted in 1909 by the late
Justice George Malcolm as a rest and relaxation area for the
Americans. Tolentino stressed the need to “update, upgrade, and revise
the charter” to make it more attuned to the times. He said the
decrepit charter is not utilizable in terms of confronting modern-day
sustainable local governance insofar as making Baguio City more
competitive with other cities and in making it a smart city.

Tolentino said the new charter of Baguio makes use of the
‘sustainable-smart-creative city approach’ which could serve as a
template for future charter revisions. “Whether it is a coastal city,
whether it is in a land-locked or a mountainous area, we have to have
a forward-looking vision on how a city should be 20 to 30 years from
now,” Tolentino said.

The revised Baguio City charter bill is co-authored by Senate
President Vicente C. Sotto III, Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F.
Zubiri, Sens. Imee Marcos and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. The bill was
passed on third reading in the House of Representatives on March 22
this year. (ai/mtvn)

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