Know your candidates: Baguio City’s mayoralty bets

COMPOUNDED by problems on traffic, overpopulation, environmental degradation, lack of potable water, and garbage, Baguio City’s next mayor needs more than Midas’ touch to solve the Summer Capital’s woes.

With barely a few days leading to the May 13 2019 mid-term elections, SunStar Baguio has come out with stories on candidates seeking different positions in the local posts.

Benedicto Alambra

HAVING served in various functions in the local government unit until retiring as City Tourism Officer of Baguio, Benedicto Alambra is gunning to be the next city’s chief executive.

“Character makes a man and if I will be mayor, I will serve and not to be served. Tourism of course will be one of the major programs because we’ve been there together with the president of HRAB and others who advocated tourism. But aside from that, reforms should be done and therefore, we need a new Baguio Development Program that is very basic. But we would like Baguio to be more beautiful than it used to be for others,” Alambra explained.

The mission he said is for togetherness, involvement of all the people to work and be involved.

His platform of governance deals with having a good environment by planting trees, greening the lands, clearing air, and freshening Baguio’s waters.

In his first six months in office if elected as mayor, Alambra who considers himself as a servant leader will be calling for the Department of Public Works and Highways to open Kennon Road since accessibility to the country’s summer capital is very important.

“It is wasting a lot if we do not have access roads since we only have two access roads at present to the city which is Marcos highway and Naguilian Road which creates a lot of inconvenience,” said Alambra.

Alambra added he will also look and explore solutions in addressing waste including liquid waste management and set his sight on human resource proble.

On the issue of corruption in the city, Alambra believes corruption exists in government which is only seen following due process.

He also points out the new development plan for Baguio City is needed with the support of the neighboring municipalities aside from involving the barangays who will be part of the contextual planning for the city.

The retired civil servant believes education should be more of a service than business.

Alambra said he is also a staunch anti–illegal gambling advocate.

“As I have said, My God-my guide, Character makes a man and I have been guided by that ever since. I never knew how to gamble in a casino and do not agree to gambling in the city. I think that is also the stand of the people of Baguio and that is what are stand should be,” Alambra said.

Alambra is also looking at improving the Loakan Airport as he views it to be one of the major components of his new Baguio Development Plan which would entail a lot of money so that the residents across the airport will still have the convenience of going to their residences.

“I think there is a need to improve our airport so that we can again have access to air transport, this is being done in other countries but it needs a lot of money. We need the national government to help address this problem and hopefully by doing that, no inconvenience will happen in that area and tourism will flourish further and I think that is where we can probably pay back whatever investments given to that place,” he added.

Edgar Avila

DESPITE almost being disqualified by the Commission on Elections due to wrong filing of certificate of candidacy which was later overturned by the Supreme Court, incumbent Councilor Edgar Avila is still hell bent on running to be the next chief executive of the country’s Summer Capital.

His platform of governance primarily focuses on the continuity and sustainability of the present programs of government and past administrations.

“We are not a conquering hero wherein when you come in, remove all or change all. We should continue the good programs of the previous administration and do reforms where reforms are needed,” said the former Youth Sectoral Representative of the 9th and 10th Congress.

Avila envisions the city to have its own tertiary education facility like other cities in the country which would cater to the people of Baguio while calling all residents to be one in saving our environment.

“On education, we want to have our very own Baguio City Colleges which would have free tuition fee until high school to help the poor but deserving students of the city. On environment, we have a coined word which is Project SOBER or Save Our Baguio, Environment and its Resources which is very timely with the present environmental situation that we are facing,” Avila said.

Avila views the need for an upgraded and suitable disaster preparedness plan for the city aside from lessening red tape in government which affects the residents the city.

“Our program on disaster preparedness should focus on having to improve the capability of our evacuation center aside from having a modernized CCTV monitoring system. Another platform is on good governance, let us remove red tape and instead prioritize immediate response for our people,” said the lawmaker.

Avila, if elected, sees the need to create a Baguio City Traffic Authority (BCTA) to help solve in traffic congestion.

“It will be the sole authority of BCTA to study, review, make plans, and implement traffic action in the city. We cannot leave this to a department like the City Engineers Office to solve this because you need a centralized and focused body to solve that,” said the mayoralty candidate.

“On garbage, we should now have a permanent solution. Hauling is a very expensive solution and that is why we need to look for a permanent Engineered Sanitary Landfill (ESL) site. Political will is needed. We are looking at a permanent solution to solve this and we have many options, we will look for more areas but during the next three years, I think the will to do it now is now,” Avila added.

With the city being plagued with suspicious and onerous titles distributed in the city, Avila sees the need for the creation of a body who will process all things related to land ownership through an Administrative Order which will see and evaluate all NCIP lands, 504, miscellaneous, tax declaration and others.

During his incumbency as chairman of the committee on lands, 1,300 land titles were issued which was pending for 15 to 20 years, 249 were patented aside from the identification of 200 Barangays, 12 schools buildings at their own land without cost to government.

“What is the solution if there are no more lands available? We should look at lateral or medium rise tenements which is a four-story building like the smile homes in Quezon City or the Bistek Village. It is a medium rise tenement, 29 square meters payable through Pag-Ibig for P4,000 to P6,000 a month. And if you like a bigger one with bigger amortization. This will accommodate at least 30 families per building which would be four to five buildings per cluster having its own church, recreational area and others,” Avila said.

On the issue of water, Avila states the need to look at an earlier Australian Government grant which provides for the creation of water atch basin facilities and a like, which was shelved.

On health care, the lawmaker proposes for the city to have its own Baguio City Hospital exclusively for its constituents. Although BGHMC is located in the city, it however operates as a regional hospital catering to everyone.

“There is a lot owned by the city at Irisan which we can develop into initially a medium sized hospital. On medical benefits, we intend to look for better health benefits for our senior citizens including patient’s medical drugs,” Avila said.

And on the war against illegal drugs, Avila calls for an all-out war against drugs. He said this is not necessarily following the Duterte administration but favors for a stiffer stand on anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Edison Bilog

INCUMBENT Vice Mayor Edison Bilog if elected as mayor will focus on the traffic problem of the city as one of his platform.

He points the need to clear the roads of parked vehicles and to look for possible parking areas like the GSIS area which is sometimes used by the city for free during big events.

“We can convince the GSIS property for the city government to lease the place, or for GSIS to create a pay parking area while the city would rent from them. We can employ establishments, collapsible pay parking facilities managed and operated by the city at the area of the old auditorium so that anytime we need it, we could always remove or reinstall it,” said the vice - mayor.

Bilog explained at the ground floor of the parking area would serve as a jeepney terminal within the central business district area to clear the streets of parked vehicles.

This, aside from a recently approved budget by the council for the construction of the City Hall extension at Camp Allen area worth P410 million approved by Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

“If this will pursue, we should make its ground floor a jeepney terminal to clear the road at Kayang,” Bilog stated.

Bilog is also looking at improving the Loakan Airport to decongest and minimize vehicles, especially those used by tourists plying the city streets.

“We also support the plan of the Department of Transportation and Railways (DOTR) to put up a cable car system from Baguio to La Union and back which would help reduce the volume of motors vehicles going up to Baguio. Aside from this, we need to develop the designated pick up and drop off points for tourists so that tourists would not have to bring with them their vehicles in tourist destination areas – less vehicles less traffic. We would only allow public utility vehicles and residents to pass through selected areas having appropriate stickers,” Bilog said.

On the proposed Engineered Sanitary Landfill (ESL) for the city, the vice mayor pointed out an area at Mount Santo Tomas where 11 to 20 hectare will be allotted for the claimants to be given housing, livelihood and other benefits.

“Once we have acquired this sanitary landfill area, what we will do is for our waste to be converted into energy which does not cause pollution to our environment. If we want permanent solutions, there are many offers and what we are spending on hauling can be used for other programs of government. So in the first three years, we should have our own ESL, the framework should have been done and the construction should start,” said Bilog.

Part of his platform is for the creation of a modernized public market to ensure that all products are safe for consumption while promising to cancel the Uniwide contract which hampered modernization of the market.

“Uniwide is not capable of developing a modern market since it is already bankrupt with its liabilities at P10 billion while its assets is P3 billion. Once its contract is cancelled, what we will do is to construct our modernized market by phases to be funded by our government. If we can allot P410 million for the extension of our City Hall, much more can we fund for our city market for a period of 3 years,” said Bilog.

Bilog is also looking at building solar irrigation system to help energize the city’s street lights and government buildings that would help in saving funds for the city.

As an example, the city’s swimming pool he says spent millions for the construction of a heater, and through solar power, the water there can be treated without the use of electricity.

Bilog added with the city currently experiencing unabated tree cutting for commercial buildings and establishments because the local zoning board continuously give exemptions.

“It’s about time that if it is to be zoned, residential should be residential, no exemptions so that trees in such sections would be saved,” said Bilog.

He is positive that such corporations would be willing to cooperate for a period of three to 10 years to give time for the planted trees to grow.

He also encouraged tax discounts for residents who plant trees in their real properties, aside from residents wanting to undergo green infrastructure programs.

On the drug problem, Bilog said there is a need for the city to have its own drug rehabilitation center and establish a devoted youth and senior citizens social hall to conduct their activities.

On the issue of water, Bilog said “there is a need for us to implement the bulk water supply system. We should construct more catch basins in the city and we will obligate big infrastructure buildings to have their own catch basins and not rely on the Baguio Water District since it will affect the residents of the city.”

An action must be done he says against the increasing number of squatters particularly at the city’s watershed.

The mayoralty candidate also vowed for the creation of a Baguio City College and Hospital which would serve the constituents of Baguio City.

Labio Calingayan

LABIO Tugguinay Calingayan is the incumbent Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Barangay Loakan–Apugan.

The 39–year–old is the youngest and least heard of among the big named contenders for the mayoralty race.

Knowing this, Calingayan is quick to say “I am not a nuisance candidate,” and offers to show his Professional Regulation Commission license for teaching in an effort to show his sound mind and pure intention to serve the city.

Calingayan, during community-led debates, has become a crowd favorite because of his sound and simple answers to issues and his candor in saying he will appoint his contenders for the race for mayor as part of his team when he is elected into office.

His platform rests on three important points which are: solving the water problem in the city, addressing the worsening air quality, and focusing on the city being an educational center.

Calingayan has been serving the government and the community through his leadership in the barangay as he served as a barangay kagawad at Barangay Loakan-Apugan from 2013 to 2018 and before that a contractual community relations officer for the Benguet Electric Cooperative in 2011.

In 2007 to 2010, he worked at City Hall as an Administrative Aide VI at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, prior to that, he was a facilitator for the Department of Education, Alternative Learning System from 2006 to 2007.

He finished his education at the University Of The Cordilleras (UC-BCF) with a degree in Secondary Education while he worked at the university canteen as a janitor.

Calingayan was awarded in 2004 as one of the Ten Outstanding Youth of Baguio (TOYOB) by the Rotary Club of Baguio.

During his university studies, he was elected as president and vice president and treasurer of the Supreme Student Government and also became proponent and director of the university’s extension program for out-of-school (OSY) by providing free tutorial sessions to enable beneficiary-learners to take and pass the ALS-A&E of the Department of Education.

In 2004, the project was recognized by the National Youth Commission (NYC) as one of the finalist during the search for Ten Outstanding Youth Organization-3 (TAYO-3) which was held in Malacanang Palace.

Calingayan’s community involvement is marked by his volunteer-teacher work for the Department of Education’s Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) and Alternative Learning System (ALS).

Benjamin Banez Magalong

RETIRED General Benjamin Magalong ended a career from the Philippine National Police (PNP) after 38 years and is eyeing top spot in the city where he was born.

He is best known for his PNP chairmanship which investigated, crafted and published a full, fair, and just report on the Mamasapano incident despite knowing he will lose a promotion.

“My greatest test as a leader came when I served as chairman of the PNP Board of Inquiry on the Mamasapano Massacre. Despite strong pressures for us to spare some names from culpability, my colleagues and I remained steadfast and stood our ground for our people to know the truth and seek for justice. Knowing that any further career promotion would be set aside, I calmly accepted the consequence, recognizing that I stood by the truth.”

Magalong’s core values for better governance stands on a platform of transparency, accountability, ethics and integrity. A performance-based governance system shall be established.

His platform of governance include:

SPEEDING UP GOVERNMENT ACTION. Government services will be made accessible, available, and affordable to the people. We must do away with policies that make our people wait in long lines just to be served, or told to return in vain for follow-up.

REVITALIZING THE ENVIRONMENT. Government will take the lead in efforts to intensify environmental protection, preservation, conservation, and replenishment of dwindling resources. We will craft and execute long-term solutions that will assuredly provide the most appropriate solid and liquid waste management at the least possible expense. Our goal is simple: We must ensure that our constituents have clean air, safe potable water, and access to reasonably priced food source. Urban agriculture shall be promoted among residents.

INNOVATIVE PEACE AND ORDER MANAGEMENT. We will aspire for no less than the best possible peace and order management for Baguio, considering the city’s rapidly growing population. Modern innovative solutions including “Safer Cities” technology will be applied.

EFFECTIVE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT. We have to devise a more effective traffic management system through a consistent application of the 4-E’s


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