A RECENT statement on Benguet strawberries is contrary of promoting Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT).
On Monday, January 13, Valred Olsim, La Trinidad Municipal Tourism Officer asked other officials within the BLISTT areas to be sensitive before issuing statements that can impact neighboring towns.
Olsim made the comment following a statement made by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong about the source of water being used for watering the strawberries.
“We wish to point out that some of the information are not true. Balili River is not connected to strawberry farms,” Olsim said. “For us to have the spirit of BLISTT, we should be careful as this have deep repercussions especially officials, as leaders of BLISTT. We should consider the feelings of our neighbors.”
Mayor Romeo Salda and Olsim added tourists visit in Baguio City will not be complete without traveling to the town’s strawberry farms.
Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan said if remarks of Mayor Benjamin Magalong on strawberries are serious, it would generally affect tourism of the town.
Olsim on the other hand said the effect on the industry has yet to be seen while efforts continue to consider tourism safety and security 2020-2024 and the tourism code that include certain standards to be complied for safety and security of stakeholders.
“There are about 660 farmers, 250 pasalubong shops, 150 vendors, and hundreds of transport services who must be worried on the effect of said statements to their livelihood,” added Olsim.
On January 10, Magalong said farmers are utilizing the Balili river to water their plants at the strawberry farm during a meeting at the Mansion with Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on the development and rehabilitation of Baguio.
The Congress is currently deliberating on the passage of House Bill 1337 or “An Act Creating the Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA), defining Its Powers and Functions, and Providing Funds Therefore”.
Under the BLISTT concept, members assert that the chairman must be elected among the mayors and must be responsible in development programs and projects of common interest to the member municipalities and Baguio City.