BAGUIO CITY – The local legislative body decided to scrap from the proposed P2.056 billion annual budget of the city this year the amount of P5 million earmarked for the planned merger of the city’s 128 barangays as the plebiscite for the merger is still uncertain.
Instead, the local legislators re-allocated the said fund to various unfunded programs, projects and activities of the local government that promote arts and crafts and for financial assistance to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) arts and crafts, P2.3 million will be the city’s additional financial assistance to BGHMC in the form of medical assistance that will be equally divided among the members of the local legislative body in addition to their existing medical assistance fund and P200,000 for the honoraria of the additional member of the city’s prosecutor’s office.
City Budget Officer Leticia O. Clemente informed local legislators that the local government to need to allocate sufficient funds for programs in arts and crafts in compliance with the guidelines of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Baguio City being one of the 64 new Creative Cities in the world.
Some local legislators questioned the allocation of the P5 million in the annual budget of the city this year for the barangay merger plebiscite since there is still a long way to go for the proposed merger of the city’s 128 barangays to comply with the provisions of the Local government code.
Earlier, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan created the Task Force on Barangay Merger last year to consult the affected barangays to ascertain the ideal number of the barangays in the city that complies with the Local Government Code provisions.
Based on the initial work of the Task Force, the ideal number of barangays in the city is 42 with 38 proposed clusters indicating positive support during the consultations with barangay officials and stakeholders and consultations with the remaining 4 clusters composed of 24 barangays will still be pursued this year.
The Task Force will submit to the local legislative body their final study on the proposed merger of the city’s 128 barangays after all consultation are done to inform the crafting of the appropriate ordinance legitimizing the merger.
Under the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, a barangay must have at least 5,000 inhabitants to be legally recognized as the smallest political subdivision in the existing bureaucratic set up.
For the past several years, the local government had been attempting to merge the city’s barangays to comply with the existing laws, rules and regulations but such efforts failed due to political reasons.
By Dexter A. See