By Mario Casayuran
The Senate government corporations and public enterprises committee will attempt to draft a modern, architect-planned Baguio city by incorporating nearby Tuba, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tublay and Itogon municipalities into a metropolitan Baguio.
This surfaced during a committee hearing chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon who will consult with local government unit officials, engineers, architects, and heads or ranking officials of Departments of, Environment, Trade, Public Works and Highways and Tourism, and National Housing Authority (NHA) in Baguio city on January 3.
Baguio has been designed for 25,000 but is now overloaded as its current population is 350,000 but this balloons to 550,000 during daytime, he said,
The social engineering to be drafted for Metro Baguio must have legal, moral and physical infrastructures to be livable and environmentally acceptable, he added.
Gordon said deterioration of Baguio has been caused by recklessness and carelessness.
‘’Baguio self-destructed,’’ an observer to the committee hearing.
He said the entry of the NHA is needed as there would be relocation of people living in jam-packed areas, roads right of way (ROW) should be wider for future expansion as the cost of paying landowners in ROW acquisitions is very steep, pine trees should be planted to restore Baguio’s original pine-scented vistas, among others,
Gordon said schools should be built in Tuba town while the University of the Philippines (UP) agricultural school should be built in La Trinidad, the vegetable capital in the Cordilleras.
When the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) started its rehabilitation of Boracay resort, Gordon said Baguio should be the next capital/resort to be rehabilitated.
The hearing was requested by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto who filed Senate Bill 1692 creating the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA) or Metro Baguio.
Recto said Baguio, through the years, has developed from what was once a grassy marshland into one of the cleanest and greenest, highly urbanized cities in the country.
It is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, owing to its cool climate, foggy hills, panoramic views and delightful blooms and foliage. Its rich culture and vast resources have lured numerous investments and created business opportunities for the city.
‘’However, problems associated with rapid growth and urbanization have become more evident in Baguio city. The environmental protection, tourism influx, traffic congestion, adequate water supply, waste management and the provision of basic services have now become an immense challenge. With people’s lives pivoting around major commercial centers, Baguio city is often paralyzed by traffic congestion and shopping mayhem. While the number of automobiles and tourists increased, the city’s infrastructure has failed to keep up,’’ Recto said.
Recto said his bill intends to manage the development planned for the city and nearby municipalities. The proposed BLISTTDA will render services that will respond to the challenges and problems that the city is facing. It will rationalize the use of infrastructure and thoroughfares, institute transport and traffic management system including the implementation of a single ticketing system.
This bill, according to Recto, also intends to create a master plan in building alternative roads that will help ease the traffic congestion to lessen carbon emission and eventually make everyday lives of the people more convenient.
Recto explained that the BLISTTDA would provide and manage engineered sanitary landfill and treatment facility for solid wastes that is acceptable to the city and its nearby municipalities.
“Included in the proposal are provisions for an integrated flood control, drainage, and sewerage system. It also includes the implementation of contingency plans and mobilization of resources for relief operations in coordination with national agencies concerned in times of calamities and disasters,’’ he added.