BAGUIO CITY – The anti-Senate Bill (SB) 2169 sentiment in the Baguio and Benguet areas continues to get support from different sectors and even among newly elected officials who want the proposed bill that seeks to establish the Greater Baguio-Benguet Development Authority (GBBDA) to be brought back to the people for the conduct of sincere, honest and transparent consultations.
Mayor-elect Benjamin B. Magalong, in an interview over RPN-DZBS 1368 khz Baguio, stated that senators must learn to listen to the plight of the people and not the people always listening to them because it defeats the purpose of conducting consultations in the areas that will be affected by the proposed law.
“We call on the senators to listen to our plight for the bill to be brought back to the people for the conduct of more transparent consultations that are geared towards finding solutions and not creating more problems for us in the Baguio and Benguet areas,” Magalong stressed.
He suggested that it is best for the Senate to bring back the proposed bill on second reading instead of approving the same on third reading on May 20, 2019 because there are numerous issues that have to be resolved in the provisions of the controversial measure before it will be approved and enacted into law.
The retired police official noted the position of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-SAblan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Governing Council in their proposed amendments of the bill is in order but he questioned the failure of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises to consider the proposed amendments to the bill before it was submitted and approved on second reading on January 22, 2019 or 18 days after the conduct of the public hearing in Baguio City which was actually dominated by the chairman, Senator ?Richard Gordon.
According to him, the problem with the public hearing conducted in the city was that people were converted as mere listeners to Senator Gordon for several hours wherein the proposals of concerned stakeholders were not considered and actually left hanging in the air.
In a related development, a group of cordillerans from the BLISTT and Metro Manila will be trooping to the Senate on Monday to try to convince senators to take back the bill from being calendared for third reading and for the same to be brought back to the committee for it to conduct more realistic consultations with the people that will be affected because many sectors view the proposed law as a grand design by businessmen to undermine the local autonomy of local governments as enshrined in the Local government code of the Philippines and the rights of the indigenous peoples IPs) over their ancestral domain so as to advance their business interests in the Baguio and Benguet areas.
Further, SB 2169 is viewed by many sectors as a measure that will trample upon the region’s renewed quest for autonomy and deprive IPs of their right to the conduct of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) on development projects that will be undertaken by business interest groups within their ancestral domain.