Autonomy issues heat up in mountain province

The fresh push for Cordillera autonomy has stirred discussions on how this mountain region can finally take stock and control of its dwindling natural and mineral resources for its own development instead of these being continuously  exploited for national progress. 

The “development-for-whom” issue anchored initial dialogues especially in Mountain Province where its task force on regional development and autonomy conducted initial consultations in the 10 towns.

At the meeting Wednesday of the regional committee tasked to get inputs for the drafting of a new autonomy charter, provincial task force chair Franklin Odsey reported the questions raised included the following:

Will the people of the region be able to have titles to their lands vis-à-vis restrictive national government policies and laws proclaiming wide areas as parks, watersheds or claims of mining firms? Will the regional government have the power to issue mining and other permits for the exploitation of Cordillera’s resources and directly collect taxes from their operations?

Among the issues raised ion Sagada, Sabangan and Tadian towns were: What should be done with national laws that prevent us from utilizing our forest resources like trees planted by our forefathers? Whaty about the tapping of our water resources for dams which are now in private hands?

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Mayor’s year-end report: city on the right track

BAGUIO CITY – The city government is on the right track in its developmental pursuit gauging from the gains it attained in the delivery of service to the public for the past six months.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan made this assessment last Monday during his first flag-raising rites address for the new year where he cited the accomplishments achieved by the various departments under his administration for the second part of last year.

“Based on the initial reports from the various departments, we can say that we are substantially on the right track in fulfilling our obligations of delivering service to the public,” the mayor said.

He cited the substantial gains attained at the tourism and peace and order fronts as well as the achievements in revenue collection, peace and order, human resource development, health services, infrastructure development and currently on waste management as proof that the city is in a good position on the road to achieving its developmental thrusts this year.

He however said that the key is sustaining if not improving the efforts to propel the development momentum.

“I therefore ask each and everyone of us to continue our good teamwork to sustain or even improve the momentum gained for the past six months to enable us to hurdle any kind of problem,” the mayor exhorted City Hall employees.

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P-noy asked to help city reclaim forbes lot

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan got his wish to bring the city’s desire to recover the lots within the Forbes Park forest reservation to the attention of President Benigno Aquino III.

The mayor last Monday bared that the Forbes Park issue was one of the two concerns he took up with the President during his brief visit at the city mayor’s office last Dec. 31 where he expressed to the President the city’s desire to have the Solicitor General file for the reversion of the Certificates of Ancestral Land Title (CALTs) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) over the lots to enable the city to reclaim the supposedly inalienable lots.

The mayor said the President asked him to put the request in writing so he could act on it.

The mayor expressed hopes that something concrete will result from his encounter with the President especially since the Forbes Park issue is an immediate concern of the city government.

“We need to handle this properly because losing Forbes Park to these private individuals would mean the eventual destruction of Baguio considering that it is one of the only few remaining pinestands in our city,” the mayor bemoaned.

The mayor during the Ugnayan press briefing last Thursday bared that the draft petition for the Solicitor General to initiate proceedings for the CALTs’ cancellation has been finished and will be pushed but the support of the President will be crucial.

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ERS delayed but city ‘on track’

BAGUIO CITY – slight delays in the operation of the Environmental Recycling System (ERS) machines will not be a problem.

This was assured by City Mayor Mauricio Domogan during the weekly Ugnayan Presser which resumed January 6.

The ERS machines will be fully operational by January 17, this is the commitment of Mr. Luis Lu of Protech Philippines, he said.

The full operation of the ERS machines were set at an earlier time but due to the need for 3 167 KVA transformers to power up the machines, the same have been stalled.

The electrical installation is ongoing and would be finished by this week, Domogan stressed.

A set of conveyors are also set to arrive in the country by January 7 and would be delivered to the city on January 11.

Answering to queries on garbage backlog due to the non-operation of the ERS machines, Domogan said he has already approved authority for Protech to lease the big garbage trucks owned by the city government which will be used by the company to haul residual wastes at no cost to the city.

I believe that we can solve the garbage problem and we can stop the hauling of garbage to Tarlac which is eating up our funds, he said.

Inauguration of the ERS machines are set February 2 and invited as guests are the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agriculture.

Domogan also said he has also invited President Benigno Aquino III to grace the inauguration.

Hopefully he could come, Domogan said.


Mayor warns against illegal peddling, orders arrests

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan this week ordered the Baguio City Police Office to clear the streets of sidewalk vendors. 
Domogan during the Alay sa kalinisan regular meeting said complaints of pedestrians and drivers reached his office of vendors selling in major thoroughfares of the Central Business District (CBD) impeding the flow of traffic.

This was observed during last years celebration of the yuletide season where parts of the city’s roads have been jam packed with vendors.  
We did not allow them to sell their wares in city streets and we did not issue any permits, he said.

Although some barangays allowed vendors to sell in areas covered by their jurisdiction, Domogan stressed roads in the CBD should not be used for open market activities.

Domogan is contemplating on filing administrative charges against those responsible in allowing the selling in city and national roads.
We have city ordinances and laws to follow, he stressed.

Domogan also appealed to vendors to sell only in places designated for vending and tasked the police to apprehend those who deliberately peddle their wares in places not allowed to include overpasses and sidewalks.

Though the lack of police manpower greatly affected monitoring of peddling in the CBD, marshals have been deputized by the market task force to help in the drive most especially in the city’s public market.

We need the cooperation of everybody in order that the problem can be solved, he stressed.


Over 600-T in prizes await early taxpayers

BAGUIO CITY – More early birds toeing lines to pay taxes at City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) in City Hall are going home smiling nowadays…

While tax year 2010 is already considered a success, enterprising city treasurer Thelma Manaois introduced another ‘baby’ this January “to spread blessings a bit more and give extra reasons for taxpayers to part with their hard-earned money.”

With a quirky smile to match her curls she revealed, “We unveiled ‘Resibo Mo May Panalo’ where every qualified tax payer can spin the wheel at the one-stop shop and win instant prizes from now until March 31.”

She explained the program is open to property and business owners who have no tax delinquencies as of December 31, 2010. To qualify, taxpayers must likewise settle their 2011 accounts in full.

Real property owners are entitled to one spin per receipt covering a property registered under their names. Realty corporations are entitled to one spin for every 50-real estate units but not more than 5-spins.

Business owners on the other hand are entitled to one spin per business location.

Major prizes include 12 washing machines, 12 cellphones, and 12 rechargeable lamps. Consolation prizes include 1000-mugs, 1040-umbrellas, 1000-thermo bags, 1000-blankets, and t-shirts – all emblazoned with the city government logo. 

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Budget deliberations moving

BAGUIO CITY – The city council in a special session last Dec. 28 approved the proposed budgets of 13 of the 18 departments of the city government as deliberations on the 2011 city budget continue here.

Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas said the body will continue reviewing the proposed financial plans of the remaining five departments and make the necessary adjustments if needed to complete the departmental budgets.

Afterwards, focus will shift to the more crucial concern which is the prioritization of the projects to be financed from the 20 percent development fund which make up the 2011 Annual Investment Plan (AIP)

The body will set another joint executive-legislative meeting after the New Year break to tackle the AIP, the approval of which is required before the budget can be adopted.

Earlier there were disagreements on the list of projects proposed under the development fund but both the executive and legislative branches expressed willingness to adjust the details on condition that the original amount of the budget will not be changed.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan earlier submitted the AIP prepared by the city planning and development office to the city council for approval.
He said the AIP supported by the executive budget is summarized as follows: P998,875,000 goes to the operation of city government departments and P92,220,000 is allotted to the city development fund comprised of major development projects with a total amount of P62,220,000 and barangay development projects costing P30,000,000.

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SK head proposes transpo time for students

BAGUIO CITY – Sangguniang Kabataan Federation (SKF) President and Youth Councilor Karminn Cheryl Dinney Yangot has proposed an amendatory ordinance for students to be serviced by jeepney units up to 9:30 in the evening.

As to the submitted proposal, Councilor Yangot mentioned earlier ordinance 066, series of 1995 which required Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association members to provide units for passengers until 9:00 in the evening.

City Ordinance 066 aims to “ensure that evening passengers most specially students reach their respective homes early and at the same time enjoy an affordable means of transportation.”

However, she has observed that “after 9:00 o’clock in the evening, many students and other evening passengers can still be seen in the different jeepney terminals waiting for jeepney units to ferry them home,” thus the proposed ordinance.

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Rizal Day (Dec. 30, 2010)


P-noy keeps hope alive for nixed peza share

BAGUIO CITY – President Benigno Aquino III’s intervention kept the city government’s hope alive for its long-time bid to collect the P125 million tax share from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) operations.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan Thursday bared that the President directed the Dept. of Budget and Management (DBM) to look into the city’s claim which suffered a setback after Aquino himself vetoed it from the national budget last month.

Domogan said the information on the President’s directive was relayed to him by DBM regional director Liza Fangsilat during the forum on autonomy last week.

The mayor said he directed the Local Finance Committee to coordinate with the DBM-CAR and forward the details of the city’s claims to the DBM central office.

The President’s move was an offshoot of Domogan’s request for him to reconsider his veto of the city’s tax share when the President visited the mayor last Dec. 31.

The mayor refused to give up on the share despite the President’s veto so that when Aquino arrived and paid him a brief visit, he took the opportunity to request for a reconsideration of the vetoed tax share recounting to the President the city’s struggle in collecting said amount and emphasizing the need for it to fund various priority projects including the payment of the Baguio Convention Center.

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Public hearing set on rights of taxi passengers ordinance

BAGUIO CITY – The city council will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance “Providing for Rights of Taxi Passengers in the City of Baguio “on January 14 at 2 p.m. at the city council session hall.

The hearing will be facilitated by the council committee on human rights, public protection and peace and order chaired by Councilor Nicasio Aliping Jr.

Authored by Councilor Edison Bilog, the proposed measure seeks to acknowledge the rights of taxi passengers and penalize acts violating such.

As spelled out in the proposed ordinance, the rights of taxi passengers are as follows:

* Right to be picked up and transported to their stated destination by any available on duty taxi driver, subject to applicable traffic regulations;
* Right to a fare meter duly calibrated and sealed by proper authorities;
* Right to a properly dressed and courteous driver who provides assistance, if requested;
* Right to a taxi that is clean, smoke-free and in good repair;
* Right to direct the route, to suggest the destination on the most economical route;
* Right to see the taxi meter;
* Right to see the driver’s identification card;
* Right to a quiet atmosphere upon request;
* Right to pay the rate exactly as posted in the meter;
* Right to be assisted by the drivers in loading and unloading of goods; and
* Right to be returned of any property left in the taxi cab.

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Mayor orders ‘hands off’ for employees in tax and permit transactions

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan in his first Administrative Order this year called on city hall employees to ‘stay away’ from business permit transactions and leave them to the taxpayers themselves.

Observations from previous years show taxpayers engage the services of several city government employees in the processing and renewal of business permits, Domogan said.

However, these employees spend several hours, if not several days in the offices concerned working out these permits affecting their performance in their respective offices, he added.

It is also observed that the acquaintance and familiarity as well as influence of these city employees with offices concerned creates undue advantage over taxpayers who do not have connections.

This practice of employees has to be corrected, he stressed.

The order came just as the schedule for application of new, renewal of business permits and payment of business taxes opened January 3 cramming the City Treasury office with early taxpayers wanting to avail of the 20% discount.

I am requesting the taxpayers to complete their documents first before transacting with city hall to avoid hassles, he exclaimed.
Domogan said ‘no employee shall intercede and or hand carry in behalf of any applicant or permittee for issuance of new, renewal of business permits’ and ‘only employees directly involved in the processing of said permit maybe allowed to handle the processing thereof in their respective offices.

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Aparri, eddiva win athlete of the year 2010 award

BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera amateur boxer Alice Kate Aparri and Wushu ace Mark Eddiva will lead a cast of 40 outstanding athletes, sportsmen and sports aggrupations who will be honored at the 24th National Correspondents Club of Baguio (NCCB) Kafagway Sports Achievers Day program billed at the Malcolm Square on January 15.

Both internationalist were unanimously chosen by the project’s award and recognition committee as “Athlete of the Year 2010” awardees. Aparri, an Information Technology student at the University of Baguio (UB) was a bronze medalist in her class at the 2010 World Boxing Championships held last year in Brigetown, Barbados. She was the only boxer in the Philippine Team medal aspirants to win the coveted prize.

On the other hand, Eddiva, the talented wushu warrior also won the bronze medal in the 65 kgs. division in the recent 16th Asian games held in Guangzhou, China (PROC). He was the only athlete in the PHL Wushu squad of the national contingent to net an award.

The roll of honorees include 2010 Asian Masters Track and Field championships javeline throw, discus throw and shot put gold medalist Erlinda Lavandia and Edward Folayang, a bemedalled URCC and Wushu internationalist.

The other awardees are: Dayer Gabutan, pro-boxing; John Keithley Chan and Kariza Kris Chan, Wushu; Flordeliza Danos and Modesto Manalang, athletics; Fred Puckett, golf; Patricia Mae Sembrano, taekwondo; and PARAlympics player Adeline Dumapong.

The sportsmen awardees are NIIT Vladimir Cayabas, Karatedo master Julian Chees, brothers Arnold and Joel Oglayon, national boxing coach Glicerio Catolico, Sr., BBEAL sports commissioner Dr. Mary Ann Unos, URCC founder Mark Sangiao, three-time Mr. Asia bodybuilder Sammy Ayochok and sports writer Roderick Osis.

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MGD hopeful P125-M PEZA share could solve BCC payment woes

BAGUIO CITY – The Yuletide season may be long gone but mayor Mauricio Domogan still believes his wish for Baguio to finally own the Baguio Convention Center (BCC) could still come true.

During the ‘Ugnayan’ presser hosted by DZEQ ‘Radio ng Bayan’ last week, he revealed he has a direct line to political heaven exchanging numbers with president Benigno Simeon ‘P-Noy’ Aquino III during the latter’s surprise visit at City Hall, December 31.

Domogan said, P-Noy is willing to aid the city secure its P125-Million share in Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) remittances from the national government.

On top of this, he said a compromise deal with BCC owner Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is on the works for the eventual transfer of ownership of the property.

These, considering pre-trial conference on the GSIS-City Government ejectment pre-trial conference being scheduled this February.

P-Noy earlier vetoed the item after it had been included in the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA) when said share was supposed to be remitted to the City Government being host local government of PEZA.

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Additional fund for mines view satellite market up for study

BAGUIO CITY – The city council Tuesday tasked its committee on laws to study the request of Mayor Mauricio Domogan for the realignment of a P12 million fund earlier allotted for various disallowed projects for the completion of the on-going satellite market project at Mines View Park.

The mayor earlier sought for the additional funding  after the appropriations proved insufficient to complete the project.

City building and architecture officer Oscar Flores said earlier the additional budget will be used to defray the cost of an additional scope of work for the project to provide 201 stalls in the structure to house the legitimate vendors in the area as per the Memorandum of Agreement between the city government and the Mines View Open Market Vendors Association and the Minews View barangay.

The project which was started last January with a total cost of P38,200,000 covers the construction of a four-storey building at the park which will house not only the satellite market but also the barangay hall, multi-purpose hall, day care center and health center of the barangay.

The satellite market project is envisioned to solve the vending problem and put back order at the Mines View Park in the hope of reclaiming its status as a park and favorite tourist hub.

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Rizal Day Celebrated

BAGUIO CITY – City officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas and Congresman Bernardo Vergara  during the Rizal Day program last week urged city constituents to emulate national hero Jose Rizal’s deeds.

Speaking before city officials, employees, Kababaihang Rizalistas, the Baguio City Community Rondalla, Knights of Rizal, senior citizens, World War II veterans represented by Cols. Napoleon Gojo and Gualterio Adalim, officials of the Rizal Commercial and Banking Corporation, Baguio Masonic Temple members, the city’s top officials articulated on Rizal’s self-sacrificial acts which inspired many to fight for the country’s freedom

The congressman hailed Rizal’s brilliance and martyrdom when he bravely faced death for his country. The vice-mayor asked that the Baguio citizenry emulate Rizal’s deeds; and work the next generation’s better future. Let our conscience be our guide as we do good things, Vice-Mayor Farinas said.

The mayor emphasized on the importance of citizens doing small things right which would result to being heroes in their own right.

Our own words carefully chosen and properly spoken and small deeds done rightly would amount to bigger and better things which would benefit more than we could realize, the mayor said. Let us be instruments of goodwill, he also said.

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