Facing journalists Wednesday, members of the Baguio City Council and ably supported by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong showed their firm stance against House Bill 9428 proposed by Baguio lawmaker Mark Go seeking revisions in the Baguio City charter. “The people should be consulted and informed properly because it will affect their social and economic lives,” Baguio City Councilor
Jose M. Molintas said, specifically citing that the House Bill 9428 only seeks a partial segregation of parcels of land under the Camp John Hay reservation that would not completely benefit Baguio.

Though allowing residents within the 13 barangays within the CJH reservation to own titles, revising the Baguio City charter to allow the segregation of the occupied portions should be fully understood by the people of Baguio, Molintas explained. RA 9428 is more disadvantageous to the people of Baguio as there are so many provisions that disenfranchises them, the Ibaloy councilor said. The 13 barangays include Camp 7, Country Club Village, Greenwater, Happy Hallow, Hillside, Loakan-Apugan, Loakan-Liwanag, Loakan Proper, Lower Dagsian, Lucnab, Military Cut- Off, Sta. Escolastica Village, Scout Barrio and Upper Dagsian.

Many of the people living in the said barangays are indigenous peoples where majority of them are the indigenous peoples called Ibaloys, the first settlers of Baguio City The 13 barangays lie inside the 530 acres of the place once called by the Ibaloys as “Kafagway” or “pasteur land”. In 2001, the 14th barangay, Scout Barrion was segregated as a socialized housing area. For decades, Molintas said, the people suffered enough from the many restrictions being imposed in the former US military base as they were being barred from introducing improvements to their houses and their livelihoods.

He said that to prioritize the welfare of the people living in the areas within the camp, the city council passed a resolution in 1994 setting 19 conditionalities in the formulation of BCDA of the master development plan for Club John Hay or Camp John Hay. These 19 conditionalities were supposed to be complied with by the BCDA in ensuring that rights of the people occupying the lots inside the are to be respected and the function of the local government of Baguio as host over its constituents and area of jurisdiction. Yet the said conditionalities are yet to be fully be complied with.

Another Ibaloy Councilor Peter Fianza said that a bill in addressing the problem is good, but he
claimed they were surprised when Rep. Go filed RA 9248 without properly consultations with
stakeholders, including city officials and especially affected residents. Also a lawyer like Molintas,
Fianza said HB 9428 could be “contentious as it appears to allow BCDA to enrich itself from properties to which it may not rightfully be entitled.” He stressed the importance and necessity of a public consultation. This as a disappointed Baguio City Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan condemned the Januay 16, 2024 incident during the Committee on Laws-initiated public consultation at the Baguio Cultural and Convention Center (BCCC) on Rep. Go’s proposal.

In the said consultation, a group of people supposedly from the camp of Rep. Go attended creating a scene. Some of them uttered unsavory comments seemingly focused on derailing the public consultation. With the group were also some who served as a “cheering squad” who cheered on comments of the supposed Rep. Go’s representatives while jeered at the City council committee
members. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also condemning the incident and uncalled for behavior against a supposed stakeholder’s consultation to get the “peoples pulse”. Molintas stressed that views on Go’s RA 9248 is not at all anything political nor personal attack against Rep. Go, but a well-meaning consultation on a very important piece of legislation that would chart Baguio and its peoples’ future.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

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