BAGUIO CITY – City officials tasked the Committee on Laws, Human Rights and Justice, together with any interested member of the city council, as a working group to invite the general public, the academe, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Baguio-Benguet chapter, government agencies and barangay officials to submit their reactions, comments and recommendations and to submit a report elaborating on the ambiguous provisions of Republic Act (RA 11689 or the revised Baguio city charter.
Under Resolution No. 324, series of 2022, city legislators stated that in addition to the 6 points enumerated in Resolution No. 144, series of 2022, the revised city charter ambiguously makes Baguio City a component city of Benguet by requiring the Secretary to the Sanggunian to submit all ordinances and resolutions to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet for review instead of its original state as an independent and highly urbanized city which legislative actions are not subject of review by any province or Benguet.
The council mandated the working group to coordinate with the Office of the Baguio City Representative for the schedule of meetings and venue where concerned officials can be available and that the expenses of the working group shall be shouldered by the city government.
The body is mindful of Resolution No. 144, series of 2022, where the council resolved to earnestly request His Excellency Rodrigo Duterte for the veto of House Bill (HB) No. 882 and Senate Bill (Sb) No. 2163 or the revised Baguio City Charter to give ample time for consultations to address issues and concerns thereof.
Concerned that the said bills lapsed into law, particularly RA 11689, without a plebiscite to allow the constituents of the city to openly discuss the effects of the revised charter on their lives and properties, the council asserted there is an urgent need to constitute the Committee on Laws, Human Rights and Justice to act as a working group that will meet once a month at a public place to receive documents, reactions and recommendations, then make a report to the city council and later to the House of Representatives for appropriate action.
Under Resolution No. 144, series of 2022, the council anchored its request for the President to veto the revised city charter on the fact that under Section 3 of the bill on territorial boundaries, it provided that the city shall comprise the present territorial jurisdiction of the city where it does not express definite territorial boundaries or definition of the metes and bounds of the city which is supposed to be vital part or proviso of the charter.
Further, the said section is ambiguous as the territory which is defined in the previous 1909 Baguio city charter has undergone changes and the city is now administering a territory which is different from the latter.
The council is pushing for the need to incorporate a provision in the charter which already contains the definite metes and bounds of the city considering the problems arising from the absence thereof, like the situation where the municipal hall of Tuba, Benguet is within the boundary of the city and that some real properties, especially located in adjoining barangays like in Sto. Tomas proper and Dontogan are tax declared in Tuba.
The council argued that the proceeds from the sales of lands under the new charter go to the coffers of the national government which is not so in the previous charter where such proceeds go to the City Treasury Office which is used to finance the Administrative Order No. 504 clearing committee that is tasked to issue clearances of applications for titling of lands.
According to the council, some sections of the bill will undermine Resolution No. 362, series of 1994, that set the 19 conditions in the formulation of the master development plan by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for the development of Camp John hay (CJH).
The council wants that a plebiscite be conducted to involve the people of the city considering that the prescribed revisions are substantial to the new charter.
The council stipulated that the basis of the 55 hectares increase on the land area of Camp John Hay reservation which rose from 570 hectares to more or less 625 basis is highly questionable, thus, the need to institute the appropriate corrections thereto and to ensure that there will be no indigenous peoples who will be deprived of their lands because of the questionable increase in land area of the BCDA.