Continued from yesterday

Voter’s expectations

IN AN informal survey conducted by this writer, old-time residents and new settlers have multifarious views on what the next mayor of Baguio should first address.

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Out of the 60 total number of respondents randomly selected in the city, already 29 were first-time voters or those who have just transferred voter registration in the city and those who have turned of legal age to vote.

This already is suffice to say that first-time voters already comprise to more or less 40 percent of the voting population of the city.

Of the first-time voters in the city, most of them same as old-time registered voters concur -- 80 percent of the respondents to be exact -- that the first issue that should be addressed by the mayor is the garbage problem, including then solid waste management implementation and the construction of the engineered sanitary landfill of the city.

First-time voter Von Flores, 24, said: “First is the trash collection problem the next mayor should come up with better management for better investments than just dumping trash in a landfill that would be more productive like a recycling system would address this issue.”

Resty Refurezo, 58, agrees to Flores by saying that the garbage problem in all its reeking and foul effects to the city is the first problem that the city’s chief executive should address.

Law student and first-time voter Clifford Chan said the incoming mayor should develop strong ties with the council and work with them in promulgating resolutions that actually lead somewhere.

Lorene Duculan, 21, said: “I think that Baguio leaders need to be more environmentally aware. They should prioritize waste disposal. I think they should do something more concrete than posting ‘please segregate’ and fines.”

Meanwhile, most of the under 30 first-time and old-time voters in the survey all agree that crime prevention, including the alcoholism among the youth, gang wars and brawls happening in and around the city as their main concern.

Many believe that there should be less of what Jimi Hendrix would say that “every city in the world always has a gang, a street gang, or the so-called outcasts,” as every great city, once led very well will not have even one gang that would jeopardize the future of the youth.

Lawyer and long-time voter of the city Lauro Gacayan said that aside from garbage, the peace and order situation shall be the primary focus of the next mayor since he has control over the police force.

“Note of the worsening peace and order situation, like rape with homicide, as well as numerous arrests involving drug pushing, if the peace in order is excellent, then the community will easily cope with the remaining problems,” Gacayan said.

“If there’s one thing that bothers me most in Baguio now, it’s the crimes committed by frats and gangs. I don’t know how to solve it but it’s really uncomforting to know that you can no longer walk the streets of Baguio freely at night,” UP Baguio Professor Carlo Suller said.

Suller, 26, recalls that he was once chased by gangs along Laurel street and it even makes him think that some of the gangs maybe his students.

Brotherhood for Peace advocate and second-time voter Jason Balag-ey said “the next mayor should focus on peace and order. He or she should strengthen the law enforcers by having more patrol cars, more youth programs and more police and tanod trainings.”

Young writer Sacha Weygan believes that the youth today are misled. But not only problems on youth violence should be addressed but also public transportation and traffic.

Of the first-time voters surveyed by this writer, mostly composed of students plying city streets to school every day and almost 60 percent would agree that the traffic problem should be the next thing that the city government should answer.

Others who have just transferred registration or who just registered even if they have been in Baguio for years now include Lisa Araneta and Charmaine de Guzman.

“Many believe the garbage is the problem. The problem is overpopulation coupled with really bad housekeeping on the part of the local government,” Araneta said.

“This will be my first time to vote in Baguio. I am hoping that my vote will not be wasted,” De Guzman said.

In addition, long-time voter and Baguio Tourism chair Anthony de Leon said: “Immediate removal of inept and corrupt dept heads should be the solution to all problems and the rest will follow because it is no different from reorganizing a management team before implementing programs.”

Upon taking charge as the new bocap, Edward Cayetano of Loakan said accepting the challenge to become the ‘Father of the City’, the mayor, he or she should seek the full support and cooperation of all, those at City Hall, the staff, the different department heads, fellow elective officials, the leaders of the basic political unit like barangays and even his or her defeated competitors.

Journalist Frank Cimatu added the willingness to take unpopular stands for the good of the city’s environment should be the next step of the next mayor.

Cimatu also added problems of air polluton to which Mike Bugnosen agrees and says “the air quality in the central business district is very much polluted.”

These are just a sampling of the concerns raised by the more than 60 residents of the city, including first time and long time voters of the city.

Other issues raised although not as numerous as the garbage, traffic and peace and order problems include water supply, aesthetics of the city including the loss of its pine trees, poverty alleviation, educational support and sports development.

But all these boil down to one thing: these problems which the mayor should address affect the tourism industry of the city.

After all, the city’s one town one product according to Department of Trade and industry Baguio-Benguet provincial caretaker Freda Gawisan is ecotourism.

Gawisan said that without the improvement of our existing tourism facilities and services definitely will have adverse effects on the economic situation of the city.

Far from its heydays in the 1990s when influx of foreign and domestic tourists fill the city’s hotels and inns and enjoying the scenic spots and the cool weather in the city, most of the tourists would rather hang out every summer in beaches in the Visayas because as most locals would agree, Baguio has lost its luster as a tourism destination.

The lack of new offerings in tourist destinations, adventure sports activities and theme parks to boast makes the city lag behind Cebu and Camarines Sur as travel destinations.

Oxford Business Group on The Report: The Philippines 2010 based on the data given by regional offices of the Department of Tourism ranked the city number 4 in tourist arrivals in 2009.

Camarines Sur from January to June 2009 alone had 902,202 foreign and domestic tourist arrivals while Baguio only has 371, 205 which is not even half of the previous’ tourist arrivals.

The city is also behind Cebu and Boracay as tourism destination from January to June 2009 which is the time when most of the tourists troop here.

With all these setbacks, what the next set of city government officials should address, not only the next city mayor, are these problems mentioned by its over 301,926 residents according to the 2007 census.

And, almost half of it is voting this coming election.