Mayors foster Cordillera development-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
MAYORS from Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay (Blistt) firmed up plans Monday to jumpstart strategic development in the region.
The move was reached through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement by local chief executives of Blistt, namely: Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan, La Trinidad Mayor Gregorio Abalos, Itogon Mayor Oscar Camantiles, Sablan Mayor Arthur Baldo, Tuba Mayor Florencio Bentres and Tublay Mayor Ruben Paoad who formed the Blistt Development Council.
Also named members of the council are Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, Regional Development Council (RDC) co-chair Virgilio Bautista, National Economic Development Authority Regional Director Leonardo Quitos Jr., Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Director John Castañeda, and Local Government Development Foundation executive director Prof. Edmund Tayao.
Bautista said the Blistt concept has long been conceptualized to aid development not only in Baguio but also the adjoining towns.
But Bautista said 22 years since it was conceptualized after the July 1990 earthquake, the RDC thought it needs a different approach as most adjoining local governments’ think only Baguio will benefit from the project.
“It’s time to ask other local governments first before pushing the Metro Baguio concept,” Bautista said.
By pushing for the Blistt project, development will be dispersed in the 1,616,867 population of the Cordillera in 2010, particularly on one third of the region’s population or some 551,764 residents in Metro Baguio.
Coupled with an autonomous government, Bautista said the Blistt project will initiate growth in the region as most major industries that are crucial for economic growth are located in Metro Baguio.
“But Baguio is no longer the focal point of the concept, now the focus is how to develop the other municipalities,” Bautista said.
The RDC allocated P2 million for the initial workings of the Blistt project, which will start with the formation of a technical working group to be assisted by Local Government Development Foundation (Logodef).
At an average of 556 persons per square kilometer, the RDC claimed the Blistt is more congested than the Philippines and the Cordillera region at only 269 and 89 persons per square kilometer.
Congestion as a result of rapid population growth especially in Baguio and La Trinidad and slowly crawling through other less developed adjoining municipalities such as Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay also threatens the natural resources of the area.
In partnership with Logodef, a Blistt Development Council will be organized as an initial structure for meetings and coordination until an acceptable governance mechanism evolves.
The Blistt Development Council is tasked to collectively formulate a Blistt Strategic Development Framework to accelerate a rationally sustainable development and prosperity agenda in the area.
The council will also come up with framework to aim for the convergence of issues and development opportunities; serve as platform for cooperation focusing on potentials and comparative advantages and development-related concerns; serve as mechanism for resource mobilization and venue for identifying and resolving Blistt inter-LGU conflicts and issues.
Quitos said that through the council, local government functions such as the crafting of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan will not only look into how it will help a certain town but also adjoining towns inside Blistt.
Through the cooperation among local governments, he said the growth of the region will be sustained and the future will be planned well for the next generations.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 31, 2012.