By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Development in any level must be comprehensive as it must substantially address the socio-environment and interests of the public stakeholders. It must be attuned to the changing times where the issues are gathered from the stakeholders and the solutions culled after their participation. The role of the officials is to facilitate public discussions of the issues and adopt the recommendations from the people and ensure the coming-up of a comprehensive development plan.
You may call it a dream. But it is a must to come-up with a comprehensive development plan as the population is increasing but not our land area. Baguio urgently needs a comprehensive development plan.
The city was charted by the American colonial regime for 25,000 population. In its old plan, it determined areas for residential, parks, institutional areas, including reservations. The comprehensive plan outlines a development of the city from their point of view. There was no participation from the local, particularly the original inhabitants – Ibalois. These explains also why the Ibalois’ rights to their lands and resources were not recognized. Such development failed to incorporate their (Ibalois) indigenous system and practices, and their rights, too.
It was already more than 100 years since Baguio City was founded by the Americans. Yet that development concept remained and never updated to fit the present time. Baguio has now over 300,000 population, and still growing.
The local officials will claim, “but we introduced development.” The development introduced was actually “patchy-patchy or tingi-tingi.” It failed to introduce a comprehensive one. Remember, the local officials gave the go signal to develop Club John Hay (after the Americans left the area) through privatization. Until now the developers of that area failed to give what is due for Baguio. And most of the conditionalities were never realized. In fact, in almost all the barangays, the residential lands were not granted to those who are entitled despite having it contained in the conditionalities. What is worst, the proposal of the Movement for Sovereign Philippines (MSP), a coalition of Baguio-based individuals and organizations, for a pro-people and environment development were never considered.
The big malls were allowed, too, without considering its effect on the local economy. Now development for these malls are easily granted by the local officials albeit questionable. In fact this biggest mall enjoys political favors by having all routes lead to the mall.
A comprehensive solution for the garbage problem is absent, too. Instead, their solution is to buy millions-of peso-worth machinery in favor of the seller rather than solving the garbage fiasco, like identifying lands to acquire for its garbage and adopting the Fangonon-Delson solution to utilize biodegradable wastes. And since the machine is a flak, they point fingers at the residents, who now shoulder the burden of paying monthly garbage fees at the barangay level.
A very important component of a comprehensive development plan for the city is to adopt measures that would minimize the effect of landslides as it is identified a highly landslide prone area. As it failed to adopt programs and intervention measures to disallow the residents to occupy the areas susceptible to landslides, more lives and property are wasted due to the typhoon-triggered landslides. In fact, officials should have learned from the 1990 earthquake and should have from then adopted measures to minimize the effect of natural disasters.
Even the proposal for Session Road to be closed to traffic should be contained as part of a comprehensive development plan that could have been introduced through a local legislation. But it seems the present officials have no political will to adopt such a comprehensive plan. I believe that until a comprehensive plan is in place, and apparently because of the flawed systems in the city, the issues will remain. Baguio really needs a comprehensive development plan attuned to the changing times. As time is fast running, it must adopt such a plan now! # nordis.net