Aquino defends veto of city charter

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Monday, March 18, 2013


THE country’s most powerful man explained his decision to veto the proposed amendments to the City Charter of Baguio which was recently placed on his lap for approval.

Despite the approval of the bicameral committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate, President Benigno Aquino III explained he had vetoed the proposed City Charter as he claimed it wields power to the city mayor that should only be given to him.

Aquino, who joined the provincial foray of administration candidates in Baguio City on Sunday, said he was “obliged to veto the measure” citing certain provisions which he found questionable.

“There’s no problem on adding power to the local government especially if the management of the city is good,” he said.

One provision that he objected in the legislation authored by Baguio Representative Bernardo Vergara is a portion of the proposed City Charter that if ever there is civil disorder that the police could not handle, the city mayor would have authority to call and mobilize the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“If you read the Constitution, only the President as commander-in-chief will have the authority to call on and mobilize the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to quell any disturbances,” the President said in Filipino.

Another questionable provision he cited is on lands which if the National Government owns and is intended for the use of its regional office, the City Government will have the final decision on what land to use.

“Sandali lang para gumagawa na yata ng ‘Kingdom of Baguio.’ Ngayon kung ang Kingdom of Baguio ay tumutukoy naman sa kapakanan ng sambayanan wala tayong problema doon, pero kada punta ko ng Baguio at tinitingnan ko ang kinahihinatnan nito di na ako tumitingin sa mga bahay sa bundok, sa pine tree na lang ako tumitingin,” he said.

“Alam niyo, unang tingin pa lang sa umiiral na pamamahala dito. Parang kahawig siya ng aking sinundan. Kung kayang manlamang ay manlalamang, kung may pagkakataon na isahan ang mamamayan tiyak naiisahan talaga ang taumbayan,” he added.

Victim of politics

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, however, said they are surprised at the President’s statements that focused on local issues and not on the senatorial campaign. This is despite the local election campaign period starting on March 30.

Domogan said they remain supportive of Aquino’s administration despite his local Timpuyog Ti Baguio coalition with Rep. Vergara is aligned with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance.  

Domogan answered all criticisms hurled against his administration particularly on Vergara’s bill on the City Charter emphasizing Aquino might be getting the wrong information from his local allies.

“Sana binasa nila ang provisions ng Charter na like on watersheds that whatever will happen, Baguio will still have the final decision,” he said.

He also stressed Aquino’s basis on the Charter are based on earlier versions of the Charter which has long been implemented before his term and are not included in the amendments proposed by local officials.

“It’s not true that that we are creating our own kingdom. It’s already an old provision of the charter. The people of Baguio know how we are serving them,” the mayor said.

As to allegations that he will have control over the AFP and PNP during incidents of civil disorder, he said they are not grabbing the opportunity outside their authority with Aquino as Commander-In-Chief.

“We are not commanding the AFP and PNP. We are only coordinating with them in terms of peace and order,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) team, during their campaign in the city over the weekend, criticized the administration taking local issues on autonomy of Cordillera region as well as the vetoed City Charter of Baguio.  

Senatoriable Ernesto Maceda Maceda said Aquino has been ill advised in the veto of the City Charter tagging the move as unfair to 6,000 supposed recipients of land in line with the proposed bill.

UNA bets likewise spoke on Cordilleran autonomy saying the people should decide on the matter and hoped the proper distribution of national wealth be taken.  

Cordilleran autonomy is still a long standing debate in the region with groups lobbying for its passage. (With Maria Elena Catajan/Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 19, 2013.

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