Mayor Benjamin Magalong wants eyesores and nuisance in the city addressed, prohibited even.
The mayor said he had seen enough ugly spots – littered streets and business frontages, unkempt construction sites, dangling wires, dangerous posts, signs indiscriminately placed, among others — in the course of his weekly inspections of the different areas in the city which he said are unfit for a city considered as a favored tourist destination.
He thus welcomed a proposed ordinance filed by Councilor Jose Molintas creating an administrative board for the abatement of all public nuisances in the city.
The proposed ordinance has been approved on first reading and referred to an appropriate committee last Sept. 5.
As proposed, the board will receive and hear complaints or reports on public nuisances; declare an act, activity or omission, neglected place or premises, structures or signages to be a public nuisance as defined in Article 694 of the Civil code of the Philippines as amended and upon approval by the city council, petition the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio city for a permanent injunction against the public nuisance and collect actual and other damages incurred in the implementation of the order to abate the nuisance.
Under the proposed ordinance, the administrative board shall be composed of the City Engineer as chairperson and the City Health Officer as vice chairperson with the City Legal Officer, City Police Director, City Building Official, 2 committee chairpersons from the city council, representatives from 2 non-governmental organizations, and administrative staff from the city council where the latter shall act as secretariat.
The council pointed out that if the administrative board declares an act, activity or omission, neglected place or premises, obstruction, structure or signages, noise and other eye sores to be a public nuisance, it shall issue an order immediately stopping the same, prohibiting the conduct, operation or maintenance of any business or activity in the place of premises which is conducive to such nuisance; mandating the owners or possessor of the nuisance and persons or company to voluntarily abate it or for an appropriate office or company to abate the nuisance at the expense of the owner or possessor or author.
Further, the order issued by the administrative board shall expire after one year, or at such an earlier time as state in the said order.
The City Mayor shall implement the order of the administrative board and assume full responsibility in seeing to it that the order is complied with. The City mayor shall determine the cost incurred in the implementation of the order and demand reimbursement from the person or company held responsible in causing the nuisance, otherwise, he or she would recommend actions pursuant to the ordinance.
However, the ordinance will not cover prohibited drug-related nuisances which is within the jurisdiction of the administrative board created under Ordinance No. 35, series of 2005.
The proposed ordinance was inspired by the Supreme Court’s introduction and adoption of innovations and best practices to ensure the effective and immediate enforcement and redress for violations of environmental laws.
The ordinance assures that due process will be observed in the process of abating and preventing the nuisances when property rights are affected. The proposed administrative body would provide the party or parties complained of an opportunity why their acts, activities, omission, signages, structures and other obstruction should not be suppressed, prevented, stopped, removed or otherwise abated; then have its determination on the matter be implemented or prevented for a period of not more than 1 year.
By Aileen P. Refuerzo and Dexter A. See