By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Members of the Irisan People’s Action Against Demolition and for Good Governance (IPADEGG) and residents of Irisan through an open letter (see page 5) asked President Benigno Aquino III to hear their concerns all in the name of good public service and “Matuwid na Daan” before acting on House Bill 3759 which seeks to amend the more than century old Baguio City Charter.
The group expressed their opposition to the passage into law of HB 3759 believing that this revision of the City Charter will lead to the unjust displacement of poor landless citizens like them.
In November last year, the Bicameral committee composed of selected Congressmen and Senators approved the bill after members cleared earlier conflicting versions of the amended City Charter. The committee report will be submitted to both the Senate and Congress for ratification before it will be transmitted to the Office of the President to be signed into law.
According to lawyer Edgar Avila when interviewed on the bill, updating the Baguio City charter is good and is a big help for the City of Baguio especially the amending of provisions that are already obsolete.
The said bill was originally authored by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan who was then congressman and it was adopted by the present Baguio representative Bernardo Vergara.
Avila noted that one provision in the house bill can be dangerous. Under section 43 of the bill, it provides, “there shall be an awards committee composed of the City Mayor as the chairman and the Regional Executive Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Cordillera Administrative Region as vice-chairman.”
IPADeGG stressed in their petition that the chairmanship of the awards committee tasked to distribute public lands as specified in the Bill should not be given to the local chief executive but to the DENR Regional Executive Director. They said that once the mayor be allowed to be the head of the committee, it would pave the way for graft and corruption.
They also questioned the composition of the awards committee. They added that it should include at least one representative from any reputable Baguio based non government organization engaged in legitimate activities related to the uplifting of the city’s landless people.
IPADeGG said that HB 3759 did not pass the meticulous public consultations to get Baguio citizens sufficiently informed. “Virtually, every ordinary citizen here does not have even a modest understanding of its content. If there had been any consultation, it was exclusively among public officials,” the letter read.
The group also said that unscrupulous candidates could take advantage of the bill’s approval for the 2013 elections.
The Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad-Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Ornus-Kadamay) Secretary General Daisy Bagni said only the rich will benefit from this revised city charter, only the moneyed can always pay for the titling of the lands leaving the penniless deprived.
IPADegg concluded that the bill is anti-poor that it only aggravates the plight of the landless. The group suggested that the president veto it and return the bill to the House of Congress to be revised into a better law that will be truly beneficial to the poor. # nordis.net