Baguio City officials are lobbying in the Senate to remove Section 55 of the Revised Charter of the City of Baguio, which pertains to the land area of the Camp John Hay Reservation. Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan represented the city government during a Senate hearing and argued that the provision is unnecessary and could cause problems in the
future. The city government asserts that the administration and management of Camp John Hay are already well-defined in existing laws, making the reference to its land area in the Revised City Charter redundant.

They also argue that singling out Camp John Hay could give it undue advantage over other areas under different
government agencies. The city government also provided comments on other proposed amendments to the Revised City Charter. They have no objection to the removal of a provision requiring the transmittal of approved ordinances to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Benguet, as it was included carelessly. They consider an amendment regarding land disposition unnecessary, as existing laws already govern transactions related to land disposal.

However, they support an amendment that ensures joint approval by the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) and the city government for townsite sales applications. They also call for a review of the proposed composition of the Special Committee on Lands, suggesting a more structured and practical approach. The city government raises concerns about the creation of additional departments mandated by the Revised City Charter, as this may exceed the limit on personal services expenditures. They argue that this could make it difficult to implement the positions without violating budget limitations.

During the Senate hearing, Councilor Arthur Allad-iw emphasized the need for public consultation and urged Senator Ejercito to engage directly with the people of Baguio City to understand land issues better. Councilor Leandro Yangot highlighted the lack of recognition for Ancestral Land Titles and Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles within the Camp John Hay Reservation. Congressman Marquez Go, who proposed the amendatory bill, suggested that concerns raised by city officials could be addressed in separate forums and through the filing of separate bills. Senator Ejercito announced the formation of a technical working group to thoroughly examine the varied positions presented.

Overall, Baguio City officials are pushing for the removal of Section 55 of the Revised City Charter and have
provided feedback on other proposed amendments. They argue for a more adaptable and practical approach to the city charter, ensuring transparency and addressing land issues effectively.

SP/Jordan G. Habbiling

Amianan Balita Ngayon