TOP elective officials of Baguio took their respective oaths of office in the morning of Wednesday, June 30 with renewed fervor for greater heights of city development for the next three years.
Baguio congressman, Bernardo M. Vergara, synthesized what could be the collective agenda of the new city administration towards lifting the city from its otherwise lethargic state by asking strong support from his fellow batch of city officials together with the local citizenry.
By the way, the majority of the "new" set of top city officials constitutes re-electionist officials with only three fresh faces, namely, Councilors Phillian Weygan, Ed Bilog Jr. and Peter Fianza. All the rest of the city councilors are reelectionists with one, Councilor Elmer Datuin, a returnee from the old batch of city councilors.
Other reelected officials are led by Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas and other council returnees.
Perhaps, those reelected to their old posts serves to grant them an unqualified public acceptance and endorsement of their past record as council members. Perhaps.
The same can be said of Mayor Mauricio Domogan who regained his old City Hall post from his seat in Congress. Congressman Vergara himself reclaimed his old Congress seat after a hiatus of six years.
The inaugural address of Congressman Vergara appears to project an overall city development agenda for the incoming three years. Vergara sees the next three years as a period for bringing back Baguio's pristine image and glory. He has mapped out a concise effort in regaining Baguio's national importance as a premier tourist destination, a key educational center of the north and a vital regional economic growth area in this part of the country.
Part of the development vision laid out by Vergara relates to the solution of the city's garbage mess which has long fostered. Vergara envisions a garbage-free city worthy to be called the summer capital of the Philippines. He spoke of materials recovery facilities for local barangays and an engineered sanitary landfill for the city. He says all these, and other collateral upgrading and development efforts should be implemented as parallel to and not one after the other.
Other points raised by Vergara which should elicit the overall support of the city constituency refers to the collection of PhP 125 million owed by the national government from the Baguio economic zone operations. There is also the matter of collecting the city share from the operation of Camp John Hay which amounts to some PhP 650 million.
At first glance all these appear unattainable as in fact some of these goals may be hard to accomplish in the short term. But, the parameters set for enhancing the development of the city lie in such premises. Local residents, no doubt, share the optimism of the "new" batch of city officials. We wish them all the luck while assuring our support for the success of these moves.
Perhaps one of the soonest improvements that should be instituted at the main leisure facility of Baguio, Burnham Park, is the immediate installation of park lights to ensure the safety and well-being of park-goers. This should not take too much time and the people will surely appreciate something like this to happen. Lightning up the park should be a top priority. Other improvements in the area may come later and the people will understand.
The city market situation needs similar priority attention. Zoning within the city market has gone awfully awry. Passageways are still clogged with itinerant vendors. The public can not be faulted if, at times, they feel that there are probably more vendors than buyers in the city market. The city public market used to be one of the city's pride. It deserves restoration.
And the traffic situation? Need we say more? It has been one irritating condition for so long. Will the new city administration sufficiently address this problem?
Certainly, all existing city problems cannot be solved in one fell swoop. We all know the job needs superhuman effort. And there are no supermen among the top city leaders. But, the job has to be done. Perhaps, not now, not right away, but within a reasonable span of time. This, city residents will surely welcome wholeheartedly.
Speaking of the overall improvement and development program for the Burnham Park area, an ambitious plan to this effect has been completed by the University of the Cordilleras. City authorities should take time out to go over the salient points of this park development program. The doable aspects should be given top attention. The parts which need big capital outlays may take some time for enforcement. The plan is by no means a finality. The city mayor, the city council and maybe the city congressman may have to take a closer look at the recommendations of the UC planners.
What we can say is that there should not be too much concrete structures within the park. In fact, they should exude a vision of a clean and green outlook. This should provide the place with a peaceful and restful aura reflective of a leisure area. Burnham Park is definitely a treasure of sorts for Baguio. It must maintain its intrinsic luster which has been its major attraction for both local residents and visitors over the years.
With some of the more pressing city problems identified, solutions should be forthcoming from those empowered to render the same. In the end, it will be part of their enduring legacy to the city they are pledged to serve. As Congressman Vergara aptly puts it, there's got to be a start in the total development of Baguio, "NGAYON NA. HINDI SAKA NA", he enjoins. So be it.