BAGUIO CITY – The RDC Social Development Committee (RSDC) recognizes the need to find a suitable permanent location to situate several government offices. The matter was taken up during the 2nd Quarter RSDC meeting on June 7 which was initially raised in an earlier meeting by the regional PhilHealth office. The latter being one of the regional offices that are currently renting for office-use. DENR-CAR, therefore, proposed the establishment of a center where regional offices may be situated for better accessibility and coordination.
Currently, several regional offices do not own land or infrastructure for office use. The committee expressed its concern that money that is paid for rent could rather be allotted to provide or improve government services. Other agencies that are currently renting their regional offices are the Department of Health and the Philippine Information Agency, among others. A prospective government center would also help citizens to have a much easier experience in accessing government services.
The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) shared that the initial findings of the NEDA-funded study, “Urban Carrying Capacity of Baguio City” shows that there is still potential land and government properties in the city to be developed for a government center. However, the findings are not yet final.
DENR-CAR Regional Director Ralph Pablo also shared that another limiting factor is the classification of a significant land area as forestland. Recognizing Baguio’s available but limited alienable and disposable land area, Pablo recalled the RDC and NEDA’s advocacy of developing the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT) area. The committee agreed that it is a more viable long-term solution to Baguio’s urban carrying capacity concerns. DOH and DSWD shared that other provinces such as Apayao are open to providing land for government services. Pablo also acknowledged the need to develop other growth centers in the region such as Apayao and Kalinga. “If the regional government center would be in Kalinga, it would be no problem as it is in a strategically central location of the region”, Pablo said. As the primary agency concerned with classifying land, DENR-CAR committed to create an inventory of government agencies and offices that are currently renting.
Based on the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022, once Cordillera autonomy is achieved, a regional government center is eyed to be established in Tabuk City, Kalinga given its strong growth potential and prospect of being an agri-industrial hub of the region.
By Marlo Lubguban