THE Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises is backing the passage of a bill that will create a development authority for Baguio City and its surrounding municipalities before the 17th Congress ends.
“It’s an idea that needs to be done, Metro Baguio. Let us also include in the development its neighboring towns,” committee chair Senator Richard J. Gordon told reporters after the hearing.
“Even if Congress is on break, I am pursuing this before the 17th Congress ends,” he added.
The committee held a public hearing on Monday to tackle House Bill No. 6974 and Senate Bill No. 1692, which creates the Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA).
The proposed body is tasked to formulate and regulate the implementation of the medium- and long-term plans and programs for the delivery of services and regulation of land use within the covered area.
It will also set policies on traffic management and impose fines and penalties for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations.
During the hearing, former La Trinidad mayor Edna Tabanan flagged potential conflicts that might occur with local government units if the BLISTTDA is established.
“The authority will have taxing powers. How would it affect (the local government unit’s) taxing powers also? So there could be some conflicts, there could be duplication,” she said.
“We have our own development plans, we have our own vision… because we have different situations in different localities,” he added.
Baguio City Rep. Mark O. Go said the House bill does not give the BLISTTDA powers to impose taxes and to exercise eminent domain. But he said these functions could be included as amendments by the Senate.
Former NEDA Regional Director Joseph M. Alabanza said BLISTTDA will allow cooperation and interaction among local government units.
“We’d like to use BLISTTDA (as an opportunity) to plan together. (LGUs need to) interconnect with each other, they cannot isolate themselves from each other. So that is why we are suggesting we create BLISSTDA so that interaction comes in,” he said.
Mr. Gordon said the Baguio authority would have a different “legal infrastructure” to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
“We will change the legal infrastructure because I don’t believe it should be similar to Metro Manila… We will improve the technical aspect, the engineers, architects, for the zoning plans and traffic design. And we can bring back Baguio to its former glory,” he said.
“We can create a game-changing law that will restore not only Baguio but create development in its surrounding areas,” he added. — Camille A. Aguinaldo