Issue of December 8, 2019
     
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City mulls city-owned hotel and convention facility

The city council on Monday has requested through Resolution 465, s. 2019 Mayor Benjamin Magalong to spearhead the conduct of a feasibility study for the construction and operation of a Baguio City government hotel and convention facility for accommodation, conferences, and other purposes.

The desire to have a city-owned hotel and convention facility is driven by the fact that Baguio is one of the primary choices as venue for local and international gatherings such as seminars, conferences, conventions, and other similar undertakings through which the city wants an opportunity to welcome and accommodate the participants and let them feel the best experience the City of Baguio can offer and an avenue to showcase the best practices of the city.

Another driving factor are situations where the city government, from time to time, is receiving guests and visitors from other local government units, national line agencies, foreign institutions, and international sister cities that need to be promptly accommodated in a suitable city-owned facility given the fully booked hotels, especially on holidays and special occasions.

Since the city government is regularly hosting and sponsoring trainings, seminars, and workshops for its employees and constituents, including consultations, public hearings, and other similar public events requiring wider venues with modern and efficient amenities that are usually available in private venues, the proposed facility would provide an available modern venue for the city’s different activities free of charge.

A city government-owned accommodation and convention facility can finance its own operation, generate income for the city as well as employment opportunities for the city’s constituents, reduce fiscal expenses for training venues, and offer on-the-job training venue for students.

“As a highly urbanized city, it is but fitting for the city to have its own accommodation facility as showcase of the city’s brand of hospitality for visiting dignitaries, as well as other city government’s official guests and visitors,” added the resolution.

Through Resolution 466, s. 2019 sent its opposition to the implementation of Memorandum Circular 2019-016 issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and strongly recommended the recall of the said Circular to the LTFRB central office insofar as Baguio City is affected.

LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2019-016 allows the “opening of additional taxi franchises for Baguio City/La Trinidad, Benguet to any point in the Cordillera Administrative Region and in Butuan City and to any point in the Caraga region.”

In opposing the memorandum, the resolution cited Department Order 2017-011 issued by the Department of Transportation, which empowers local government units of their responsibility to determine and assess what kind of public transport is needed in its locality or whether there is a need to increase certain types of public transport like taxis. It added the determination and assessment were not given to the LTFRB but to the LGUs, which are the ones actually managing traffic and transportation in their respective jurisdictions. Thus, it is reasonable that the city government of Baguio, not LTFRB, has the right to determine if there is a need for additional public conveyances in the city.

Also cited were LTFRB Memorandum Circulars 95-014 and 96-002, which are moratorium on acceptance of applications for taxi services and PUV services in Baguio, respectively, which are still in effect and therefore must be upheld and be strictly followed.

Further, the resolution claimed that a representative of the LTFRB has admitted during the Sept. 23 council session that no consultation nor actual survey was conducted to determine the necessity of increasing taxi service in the city, contrary to what the Memorandum Circular 2019-016 is saying that there was an “actual survey conducted by concerned regional franchising and regulatory offices,” which was the basis of the number of taxi units being identified for the city.

The resolution also pointed out that in the implementation of the Number Coding Ordinance, half of the present number of taxicabs are off the streets – proof that there is no shortage of taxis. The resolution added that the city still does not need the opening of new franchises even in case of shortage, but only have to do is to lift the number coding scheme in order to allow the registered taxi services go back to the streets.

It is dismaying that despite the implementation of the number coding scheme since 2003, the same issues and concerns, such as: worsening traffic congestion, air pollution and pedestrian-motorist conflicts; lack of parking spaces at the central business district; insufficient road network; insufficient sidewalk facilities; and insufficient capacity due to narrow roads remain a challenge to the city, yet the LTFRB cannot help alleviate it, stated the resolution.

“The additional taxi units will definitely swell the existing traffic and parking problems of the city considering that said memorandum circular entails increase in the number of vehicles, hence, the opposition,” added the resolution.

Further, the LTFRB was requested in the resolution that before issuing a memorandum regarding the opening of franchises for Baguio City, it should take into account the moratorium on acceptance of applications for taxi and PUV services; the role of the LGUs in analyzing public transport supply and demand, route planning, and supply gaps; the procedures of the LTFRB for the determination of need of public conveyance; and proper consultation with the city government.

Copies of the resolution was furnished to the Office of the President; and the national and regional offices of Department of Transportation and LTFRB.

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