Domogan: Aquino got it wrong on Baguio City charter

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Friday, March 22, 2013


CRITICISMS made by President Benigno Aquino III against the proposed amendment of Baguio City’s 103 year-old Charter have been mixed-up with provisions of the proposed Organic Act of the Cordillera Region.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan believes people feeding the wrong information to Aquino are to blame for the baseless attacks of the President during the Team Pnoy campaign rally at Melvin Jones grandstand Sunday.

While Domogan took Aquino’s tirades on the state of Baguio city’s tourism as a form of challenge and constructive criticism, he said the attacks on the proposed Charter of Baguio are unfounded.

He said people feeding this information to Aquino might have mixed-up the information in the Organic Act in the region’s proposed bid for Autonomy and the City Charter of Baguio City.

“If we read the entire city charter there’s nothing in there. I was really surprised where it came from. If we look at the Organic Act what is written there is close coordination with the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said.

He also added it is within the power of the local government particularly the council to call on the PNP to quell disturbances related to peace and order.

“It doesn’t authorize creating a kingdom. It doesn’t authorize somewhat an independent city from the National Government,” he said.

He stressed it is also forbidden for any City Council to pass an ordinance that is in violation of the Constitution which states that only the President as commander-in-chief who will call the AFP and the PNP during occurrences of civil disorder.

“It is unfortunate na lumabas sa pronouncements ng acting president ang mga bagay na maliwanag namang walang basehan at wala sa proposed amendment of the City Charter at sa Organic Act,” he said.

In his speech last Sunday, Aquino objected to the amendments to the charter by Baguio Representative Bernardo Vergara claiming “if ever there is civil disorder which the police could not handle, the city mayor would have authority to call and mobilize the PNP and the 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,” Aquino said in Filipino.

But nowhere in the proposed charter was there any mention of the city mayor calling the AFP and PNP during times of civil disorder as well as the creation of a situation that Baguio will be perceived as a kingdom independent from the National Government, Aquino added.

The President in his speech also did not mention his reasons in his veto order issued last January 17 but instead cited new contentions to attack city officials instead of focusing on the senatorial campaign which according to Domogan are all baseless.

In his January 17 veto order on the City Charter amendments, he cited among others that the proposed bill impinges on the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in distributing alienable and disposable lands including the proceeds of these sales which according to Aquino accrues to the city treasury and not the national coffers. He also cited as among his reasons is the conflict of land distribution with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s functions.

“Alam niyo, unang tingin pa lang sa umiiral na pamamahala dito. Parangkahawig siya ng aking sinundan. Kung kayang manlamang ay manlalamang, kung may pagkakataon na isahan ang mamamayan tiyak naiisahan talagaang taumbayan,” Aquino finally added in his speech.

Domogan said they have been supportive of Aquino’s administration but they claimed the country’s chief executive have been cold to him and Representative Bernardo Vergara as they have forged ties with Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada’s United Nationalist Alliance.

Meanwhile, Regional Development Council co-chair Virgilio Bautista said both issues on the Autonomy Bill and the City Charter should be discussed with the president.

He said much of the problem in Baguio City’s is caused by wrong statistics from the national government as well as unresolved issues on boundary delineations between Tuba municipality.

“There are really autonomy issues and there are really charter issues, but maybe why it is more confusing to some is that if you have a city charter, you are already autonomous like Baguio City,” he said.

Bautista said what the president might be driving at is that these issues should be settled together and not in a piece meal to solve whatever issues with the people of the region highlighting these are all overlapping.

He added the people including officials in the Cordillera should always be in decisions made in local legislations that will affect them.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 22, 2013.

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