BAGUIO CITY – Considering the limited land area in Baguio City and the many regional line agencies that are currently allotting government funds to rent office spaces, the Regional Development Council committees took steps towards planning a Regional Government Center for the Cordillera.
In separate meetings in February, the Regional Social Development (RSDC) sectoral committee and the Development Administration (DevAd) Committee started preparing an inventory of government agencies currently renting spaces for their regional offices. There is an urgent need for such an initiative as agencies have expressed their struggles in implementing their mandates and functions while also having to manage changing work locations.
According to the committee discussions, most other regions have a regional government center where agencies are situated and the public can easily go from one office to the other and avail of government services. Currently, Baguio City and La Trinidad host all of the regional line agencies’ main offices.
This concern was initially raised last year to the RSDC by the Cordillera office of PhilHealth that is currently renting a building in Leonard Wood Road in Baguio City. On February 13, the DevAd Committee agreed to draft a resolution on the creation of an ad hoc committee, composed of government agencies, civil society organizations, and urban planners, to gather the data, study, and better plan the establishment of a regional government center.
According to the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022, the regional spatial strategy is to develop Tabuk City as the new regional government center to both decongest Baguio City and spread economic opportunities to the other parts of the Cordillera region. The eastern Kalinga municipalities of Rizal, Pinukpuk, and Tanudan are envisioned to be developed for agriculture and industry with Tabuk City as the service center. This shall serve as the northern growth node to complement the existing southern growth node of the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay).
In the Regional Development Council Budget Coordinating Committee Consultation on February 27, Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang and Governor Ferdinand Tubban welcomed the establishment of a regional government center in Tabuk City, Kalinga. NEDA-CAR OIC Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen said that deciding on a location for a regional government center would also depend on which provinces would vote in favor of Cordillera autonomy. Congressman Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao then urged the government agencies and the local government units to work together in ensuring that all current provinces and cities of the Cordillera Administrative Region would vote in favor of autonomy.
By Marlo Lubguban