Tourism exec: Baguio needs to fix issues on lands, parks-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
AGENCIES comprising the Baguio-Boracay Redevelopment Technical Working Group discussed major challenges faced by the Baguio City due to overdevelopment, resulting in its faded charm as the country's Summer Capital.
Department of Tourism Undersecretary Ma. Victoria Jasmin described their first local meeting, Monday afternoon, as "fruitful" after being able to gather the sentiments of Baguio officials on the different issues plaguing the city.
She stressed local inputs are important to be able to address the entangled and complicated issues of the Summer Capital.
Among the problems brought out by local officials, which need to be addressed, include land ownership, poor infrastructure, including the dismal state of the airport, and poorly maintained parks.
"We cannot come up with a redevelopment plan if the issue on the ownership of lands is unresolved. Kailangan ma-determine natin for sure kung talagang it remains to the public. We hope we would be able to gather all the possible legal remedies so we can take the next step," Jasmin said.
Jasmin said they also need to look at the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay) concept, as she stressed that neighboring towns are important components in local tourism.
Addressing the problems in Baguio is more complicated than in Boracay according to Jasmin because problems do not only involve one municipality but several local governments because of BLISTT.
The DOT official said the national government needs to prioritize land problems to enable the TWG to compose an all-encompassing plan for the city. But since the TWG is still gathering data to find legal remedies to Baguio’s pressing problems, no deadline was set for the working plan.
"We know na basta legal na ang process hindi natin ma-determine ang timetable. But we hope that with the pronouncement from the President we will be able to fast track all these processes to resolve issues as soon as possible," the tourism official said.
Meanwhile, she said there are immediate problems the local government may address. Among these are the enforcement of city ordinances, strict implementation of building code and business permit requirements, market and street vendor control and planting of flowers in parks and road sides.
"In the end we want the experience of people visiting Baguio to be experiential, to see and smell the flowers and pine trees," she said.
The TWG also discussed painting houses along mountainsides according to a color scheme which could add to the character of the city.
She said funding for the redevelopment of the city has not been discussed yet while individual agencies involved in the TWG have available resources for regular programs.
The TWG was created by virtue of Memorandum Circular 47 issued by President Benigno Aquino III and signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to look at the growth, commercialization, and the lack of a comprehensive development and zoning plan which caused the degradation and deterioration of the two top tourist destinations in the country considered as national assets by the national government.
Among the member agencies in the TWG include the Department of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Justice, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Interior and Local Government. Also joining in the crafting of redevelopment plans for the city include the Land Registration Authority, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Housing Land Use Regulatory Board and the local government of Baguio and other stakeholders involved in the redevelopment of the city.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 05, 2013.