LA TRINIDAD, Benguet August 31 – Concerned local officials from the various towns in this vegetable-producing province are wary on the real intent of the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11932 or the law that created the Metropolitan Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA) which lapsed into law.
Sources, who opted to remain anonymous for obvious political reasons, claimed that even without the enactment of the law, the BLISTT Governing and Policy-making Board has been allegedly dictated upon by some officials of Baguio city where most of the programs, police and projects are geared towards aggressively promoting the interest of the city with the Benguet towns remaining at the back seat.
Under the present circumstances, the source disclosed that there are some transportation policies in the city that are discriminatory to the interest of the residents from the BLISTT towns who transact business in the city on a daily basis which runs counter to the publicity stance of city officials that the said policies is for the welfare of the BLISTT communities.
Further, the source pointed out that during the implementation of the Luzonwide lockdown and succeeding community quarantine restrictions, BLISTT people were restricted from entering the city and were allegedly projected to be carriers of COVID-19 which also casts doubts on the sincerity of city officials so that whatever programs, projects and policies that will be implemented by the city government will also consider the interest of the people from the BLISTT.
According to another source, the MBLISTTDA is clearly intended to suit the greater interest of Baguio City because it can now use the LISTT towns to accommodate its unimplemented development projects such as in the case of Sablan which is being allegedly eyed as a dumping site of the city’s waste with the proposed put up of a waste-to-energy project amidst the strong opposition from the concerned residents.
Moreover, a separate source from Tuba stipulated that the city is government is using the important government time and resources just to prolife people in some barangays to force them to endorse the long overdue upgrading of the city-owned Asin minihydro power plants amidst the prevailing legitimate issues raised by the affected indigenous peoples against the said project for unsettled issues and concerns.
The sources are calling on the representatives of Benguet and the LISTT towns to the technical working group (TWG) to ensure that the formulated implementing rules and regulations will be favorable to the interest of the people of Benguet and not for them to succumb to the interest of the city officials of Baguio City in the guise of the operation of the development authority.
One of the representatives to the TWG admitted that there are numerous ambiguous provisions in the MBLISTTDA that cannot actually be amended but they are questioning why some city officials are persistent in pressuring them to complete the implementing rules and regulations of the law by October so that the budget for the development authority will be included in the annual budget of the government for next year.
The sources stipulated that they will continue to raise issues and concerns on the MBLISTTDA if there will be insistence that the same will be operationalized the soonest as if people are running against time.