LP members back Aquino’s veto on charter-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, January 27, 2013
LIBERAL party mates of President Benigno Aquino III defended his decision to veto the proposed Baguio City Charter stressing the constituents should have been consulted first.
Liberal Party (LP) congressional candidate Mark Go said Friday the approved version of the City Charter submitted by the bicameral committee is indeed “ambiguous and diluted.”
Go said the proposed measure directs the mayor to head the land distribution committee while other departments, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), are members of the committee.
LP mayoralty bet Jose Molintas said some residents have asked him to express their concern to Malacañang.
Molintas said Aquino saved the city from “further urban decay,” adding that the proposal maintains a status quo in the distribution of alienable and disposable lands in Baguio at a very cheap price.
“It just continues the problem in Baguio on land disposition and urban decay because that law encourages townsite sales application (TSA) and squatting in Baguio City,” he said.
He said giving away lands through TSAs is an old solution to the city’s perennial problems on land.
“The concept of Townsite Sales Applications to give up lands was a concept 100 years ago when there were many lands and there were so few people. But now, we are hundreds of thousands for such a small land area, why give up and sell lands, when we don’t have lands for our landfill and other public use?”
He suggested that the City Charter should contain provisions on keeping lands that are part of public domain.
“I know that is a very difficult thing to say but you should look at it 100 years from now. Do we have enough lands to sell by then?” he asked.
He stressed there should be a halt in the selling of these lands as it only gives false hopes and instead build communities and provide housing for people as well as providing for other needs of the city.
“What we are challenging people to look at are models of some countries like Hong Kong and Singapore that they were able to address the needs of their people but not necessarily giving out all their lands, they have full control of their lands and they don’t have squatters,” he said.
He said the proposed charter is not a solution to the city’s old problems such as squatting but only encourages it.
The backlog of some 5,000 TSAs is a problem but a policy he said should be in place without selling these lands and this can only be reached through continuing public consultations.
He said another point of concern in the proposed charter is the land arrangement with Tuba municipality in the land swapping as it steps into the rights of land owners who get to be transferred in Tuba.
He expressed concern that when the measure is approved it will be anti-poor as the proposal removed plebiscite as a requisite, which affects land valuation when a specific area is transferred to another municipality.
“It affects the civil and political rights of land owners because if for example they would transfer the area by mere publication, you don’t even have a say that your land has been transferred to Tuba. The land valuation will also be affected,” he added.
Former councilor Faustino Olowan, meanwhile, said the city charter should be more consultative through continued public dialogues in barangays.
Go, meanwhile, said the proposed charter should have a vision of the future and expressed appreciation to the president for making the right decision.
He said the approved version in the bicameral committee “does not visualize where we are going as a city.”
“There should be a vision for the city where do we go five, ten, fifteen years from now. As the contents are already contained in the Local Government Code,” he said.
The congressional candidate said there should be public consultations and hearings before coming up with a charter claiming the ten to twelve years of preparation do not equate to the proposed charter submitted to the House of Representatives.
Committee on Urban Planning Lands and Housing Councilor Isabelo Cosalan agreed with his party mates stressing the importance of continued public hearings.
He said coming up with amendments in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan are still ongoing and the need for more public hearings and participation from the people are essential.
“Let’s do it first in the CLUP as it is a good input in the City Charter,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 28, 2013.