New Baguio mayor backs creation of BLISTTDA

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BAGUIO CITY  – Mayor-elect Benjamin B. Magalong expressed his support to the proposed creation of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA) but it should not serve as an added layer of bureaucracy in the current set up of government.

The incoming local chief executive claimed the proposed creation of the BLISTTDA will greatly help in speeding up the development of the nearby towns of Benguet and lessen the impact of development in Baguio.

Earlier, local chief executives of BLISTT wrote Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, stating their opposition to the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 2169 or the bill that seeks to create the Greater Baguio-Benguet Development Authority (GBBDA) because their previous recommendations on the organizational structure of the authority and its powers as well as composition were never considered in the draft bill that was submitted for second reading.

Magalong also earlier stated that congressmen and senators should listen to the plight of the BLISTT people on what they want as the composition and the powers of the authority so that what they will enacted is the desire of the affected people and not the preference of individuals and groups that have their own interests in the creation of the authority.

Outgoing Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan branded the BLISTTDA and the proposed GBBDA as an added layer of bureaucracy because of the enormous powers it grants to the authority that seems to undermine the local autonomy granted to local governments by the Local Government Code of the Philippines and the right of the indigenous peoples (IPs) to their ancestral domain as enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

He underscored that the authority should not interfere in projects funded by concerned government agencies and local governments and it should only supervise and monitor the implementation of projects funded through its initiative to avoid overlapping of functions and avoid creating unnecessary conflict between the agencies and the local governments and the authority.

Under the proposal of the BLISTT mayors, the chairman of the authority should not be appointed by the President but it should be elected among them to ensure the familiarity of the prevailing situation in the BLISTT.

The Benguet provincial board also passed Resolution No. 19-144 that strongly opposed the passage of SB 2169 considering its serious negative impact to the local autonomy of local governments and its serious repercussions to the rights of the IPs over their ancestral domain.

Civil society organizations also signified their vehement opposition to the Senate version of the BLISTTDA which was crafted without the conduct of the required consultations with stakeholders for them to air their observations on the contents of the proposed law.

The Senate version of the BLISTTDA was allegedly withdrawn on third reading because of the vehement opposition from the affected local governments.

By Dexter A. See

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