By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Organisasyon dagiti Nakukurapay nga Umili ti Syudad-Kalipunan ng mga Damayang Mahihirap (Ornus-Kadamay) Secretary-General Daisy Bagni welcomes the veto of the proposed bill amending the over than a century old Baguio City Charter by President Benigno Aquino III on January 17.
Bagni said it deserves to be rejected. She reiterated their earlier views that House Bill 3759 or the Act of revising the Charter of Baguio City benefits only the rich people as they are the only ones who can afford to pay for the titling of the lands here.
She said that the Charter Change (Cha-Cha) will not really solve the land problems of Baguio. She added that it is good that the bill was not signed by the President as the provision of the disposition of alienable and disposable lands is not so clear.
In the decision of Malacañang, it was stated that while the objectives of HB 3759 relating to local government powers are laudable, the same provisions are all covered by the Local Government Code of 1991.
Aquino stated that section 45 of the charter is “ambiguous as to the entity that may dispose of alienable and disposable lands which are part of the town site reservation. In the mentioned section regarding the transfer of Town Site Sales Application (TSA) and Miscellaneous Sales Application (MSA) now pending with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), shall be transferred immediately to the secretariat upon the effectivity of the proposed act and shall be numbered accordingly.
The mentioned secretariat in the proposed bill is composed of the City assessor and necessary personnel from his office shall report to the awards committee. The awards body meanwhile under Section 43 of the bill shall be composed of the City Mayor as the chairman, the Regional Executive Director of the DENR-Cordillera Administrative Region as vice-chairman, the Chairman of Committee on Lands, Housing and Relocations of the City Council , the City planning and development Officer, the Registry of Deeds, the city assessor and the Provincial and Environmental resources Officer as members.
Baguio-based lawyer Edgar Avila said these provisions are dangerous as the City mayor could be the City’s chief executive forever. Avila sees the awarding of lots to so-called qualified individuals by the mayor, can be construed as a favor and may oblige them to feel indebted especially every election time.
In a press conference, Lawyer Jose Molintas and businessman Mark Go said that the decision of the president to veto HB 3759 is not stained with politics. According to Go, Aquino based the decision on their observations of its impact on the existing laws and the citizens of Baguio.
Molintas said the president also questioned the provision in the proposed amendment bill regarding the income from the land dispositions like the case of lands already transferred to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). He said that in the decision, Aquino ruled that proceeds from the disposition of BCDA lands should accrue to the BCDA.
In a statement, Baguio Representative and HB 3759 author Bernardo M. Vergara said the president’s veto has thwarted the long-aspired, far-ranging socio-economic and political benefits for Baguio, especially in resolving the city’s land use problems.
“Our citizenry has been one in spirit with city officials like mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and I, working hard to update the city charter, enacted in 1909 by the American colonial government,” stated Vergara.
Domogan originally filed a bill seeking for the amending of the city charter in 2001 as the congressman that time. Vergara claimed that his HB 3759 was approved “with no objections” by the bicameral committee on November 20 last year.
Bagni challenged candidates who are seeking for positions in the city to look after the Baguio constituents’ welfare instead of making questionable laws that do not really help but encourage discord. # nordis.net