Odd man out
Left out from a four-line agency advisory council that sought to oversee the preparation of a comprehensive land use and environmental plan for the City of Baguio is the city government itself.* * * * * * * * * *
The marching order from Malacañang is to draw up plans to preserve and restore Baguio City (alongside Boracay) as a national asset in the face of “over development.”
The move came with the imprimatur of President Aquino himself, who noted what amounted to a lack of planning in the city on one hand, and the absence of a comprehensive environmental code on the other hand.
That the council should comprise of four powerful line agencies no less (the Departments of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources, Tourism, and the Interior and Local Government) indicates that Malacañang meant business.
What is odd is that the city government has been initially denied participation or deprived of any role and must be content to watch from the sides. The implication is worrisome and implies that the city government has been terribly remiss in striking a balance between development and the city’s “carrying capacity.”
I suspect the downtrend began when a succession of city hall caretakers opened the door to the era of MOAs as the late Cecil C. Afable put it more than 10 years ago.
With the forging of MOAs left and right from the mid-1990s onwards, sustainable development has been thrown out of the window, to the delight of a train of investors that came and went.
In their single-minded pursuit to snare every MOA that came their way, the caretakers of city hall have compromised not only the environment and the city’s skyline but also the health and welfare of residents (as we saw with Jadewell and the Irisan machines).
With more MOAs likely to be snatched by out-of-town investors for the management of the Asin hydros and the city’s athletic oval, expect more concerns to be raised by an already divided citizenry.
The advisory council, it is hoped, should be able to stop the bleeding and restore some sanity if we are to bring back the luster and beauty of Baguio both as a community and as a city.
First, it was Ma’am Cecil C. Afable. Last week, it was the turn of Gerry Evangelista Sr. to make peace with his Creator.
Both will be sorely missed by the media community who were less two icons that incidentally bore witness to the beginnings of the city to what it is today.
Ma’am Cecile’s insights and her “dossier” on people and several political personalities will be sorely missed.
Mang Gerry’s wits and laughter and historical vignettes will be missed at Luisa’s Café or wherever reporters congregate.
Both loved the city and it showed in their writings.
Up there, both will walk the talk that is Baguio along with those who went ahead of them. There goes a great company.