Irisan residents hit Domogan Bill
BAGUIO CITY (Apr. 23) — While condemning Baguio Rep. Mauricio Domogan for rushing the passage of House Bill 2813 revising the city charter, urban poor groups here urge villlage consultations on the bill allegedly being fast-tracked in Congress.
Honor Sagmayao, resident of Irisan barangay, literally begged the city council on Monday to initiate public consultations on the contents of HB 2813. His request was endorsed to the appropriate committees for immediate action.
Various groups of residents in the city including that of Sagmayao called Irisan People’s Action against Demolition and for Good Governance (Ipadegg) lobbied congress last month when they heard that the bill is to be deliberated in the Committee on Local Government.
A Nordis source claimed that Domogan allegedly lied when asked by Rep. George Arnaiz, the Chairman of the said Committee, that consultations were done in Baguio and if the residents were in favor of the said bill.
Before the adjournment of the committee hearing, Sagmayao raised his hand and asked to be recognized by the chair. Upon seeing him (Sagmayao), Domogan reportedly flared up calling Sagmayao a squatter, to which the chair banged his gavel to signal silence in the session.
Sagmayao took the floor and pointed out that to pass the bill even under the committee level without consultation is a denial of their constitutionally mandated due process. He reiterated that there was no consultation held among residents about the bill.
Sagmayao claimed HB 2813 does not promote the general welfare. “The poor who can not afford to buy a transfer certificate of title from the city government, the basis for the issuance of permit would have his shelter demolished, irrespective of the fact that he was the one who improved, cultivate and posses since time immemorial,” pointed Sagmayao in his talk in congress.
He pleaded to the House Committee to conduct hearing of the said bill in the Session Hall of Baguio City hall for the people to understand the bill’s contents.
A source told Nordis in an interview that Domogan tried to consult the past City Council on the same bill when they raised it in the council that such is being facilitated in congress without their knowledge. As the past council was dominated by Domogan’s allies, they were allegedly in favor of the bill.
Broad mayor’s powers
The Domogan bill grants broad powers to the city mayor. Among them, the disposal of alienable and disposable (A 7 D) lands in the public domain of the city.
The bill mandates A & D public lands would be titled in the name of the city before its disposal by the team headed by the mayor.
The said provisions were criticized by residents as they claimed that it would politicize the process of disposing lands.
In another document submitted by various groups on the House Committee on Local Government, they claimed that to give the power into the hands of a corrupt politician would make the operation of such provision disastrous.
“Much more so when the reins of the city are in the hands of the people who are adept at appropriating land for themselves through the use of dummies,” the document added.
This revision in the city charter may very well open the floodgates to awarding of lands to the higher echelons of society in exchange for political favors at the expense of the marginalized folk who, by the way, comprise the greater population of the city, according to a practicing lawyer.
It would also encourage the creation of a fiefdom of sorts where the benevolent mayor of the city bestows lands to loyal supporters or silences would-be opposition for the prize of a certificate of title,” added the document of the Bayanihan Homeowner’s Association, Inc., Ipadegg, Gunglo Association, Inc., Ub-ubo Neighborhood Association, Inc., Lobinder’s Association, Inc., and Irisan Limekiln Retirees Association, Inc.
Charter revision: a solution?
Ex-councilor Jose Molintas, an Ibaloi, claimed that the bill is vague. He pointed out that there is no charter to revise as the 1909 City Charter passed by the Americans was already amended by the Local Government Code.
“Most of the bill’s contents were contained by the LGC like the various local boards or bodies for delivery of services”, he claimed in an interview.
He pointed out that the concentration of the disposition of alienable lands to the mayor is not a solution, as he claimed that the present system of Town Site Sales Applications (TSA) through the AO 504 is claimed to be long and tedious, pro-rich, and characterized by graft. The TSA is the sale of alienable public lands in the city to the highest bidder.
“The solution is to improve the process under AO 504 – removal of graft for example- with the participation of local government units,” he pointed as even those identified for barangay centers etc are being titled by those who are so familiar with the AO 504 process. He pointed that the bill would not introduce appropriate measures to curb the long and tedious and graft-ridden process at the AO 504.
“It is likened of transfering a graft activity on another body but graft is not eradicated,” Molintas pointed out.
Irisan residents, like Sagmayao, had established their shelters in the area but it is allegedly being claimed by an owner who invokes 211 Title or those that were not validated.
As such, they claimed, their area in Irisan had reverted back as forest land and they have been calling for its reclassification as A & D and awarded to actual occupants.
Residents are questioning the haste for the passage of the bill. “Is this related to who will run as mayor in 2010,” a resident asked. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS