Issue of April 16, 2017
Mt. Province

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Reports that Baguio Rep. Mark Go is open to valid inputs from local government units regarding his bill seeking to create the BLISTT Development Authority is a positive development in the quest to have Baguio and the outlying towns of Benguet finally working together to make development felt beyond the boundaries of the city.

If the solon makes good of his promise, the bill that seeks to create an agency to oversee convergence development projects for Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay will be amended to include the inputs of Benguet officials.

Earlier, local chief executives from Benguet have expressed reservation on Go’s bill, particularly on the provision mandating their local government units to contribute five percent from their annual budget to fund the proposed development authority. Such percentage allocation will indeed have a huge impact on the delivery of services to their constituents.

We take the solon’s openness to accommodating the inputs of the affected LGUs as a gesture of genuine concern for the development of Benguet towns. After all, it’s Baguio that will greatly benefit if socio-economic and other opportunities are spread out in the outlying towns as this city with 350,000 population condensed in 57 square kilometers could no longer hold any further developments in the nearest future.

But more than decongesting Baguio to save this city from “urban sprawl”, the BLISTTDA is a move seen to spread out socio-economic activities from Baguio to the outlying towns of Benguet especially in the field of education, health, tourism, trading, banking, and shopping and local governance.

The vision of the BLISSTDA can be realized if concerned sectors will ensure to balance development in BLISTT with the continuing growth of Baguio and La Trinidad central business districts; to have inter-local synchronized planning, development and disaster management effort and to capitalize on the comparative advantage of the BLISTT to enhance the areas of eco-tourism, tertiary education center, regional center, cutflower industry, manufacturing, food processing, and water-based power development.

Even stakeholders of the tourism industry agree that improving the infrastructure in the nearby Benguet communities is the best way of bringing back the city’s allure, which has dwindled over the years due to overdevelopment and unabated urban migration.

Given the opportunities the proposed bill will bring to the LGUs and their constituents, it is about time this decade-long quest for collaboration between Baguio and the outlying towns of Benguet finally materializes.

And with the Cordillera Regional Development Council pushing for the realization of the BLISTT developmental framework as envisioned in the BLISTTDA, the long-time quest to see Benguet towns gaining economic power alongside with Baguio is not far from reality.



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