The Baguio We Want People’s Summit

The Baguio We Want People’s Summit

February 25, 2015

Bulwagang Juan Luna, University of the Philippines Baguio

01

 

What is the People’s Summit?

The People’s Summit was a gathering of 500+ concerned citizens who came to express their love for Baguio, to vent their frustration over the current state of affairs in the city, to share their hopes for the future of Baguio, and to put forward their ideas on how to build a better Baguio – the Baguio We Want. The summit’s convenor was Bishop Carlito Cenzon, with the support of the Baguio Diocese, Baguio Heritage Foundation, Baguio Citizens’ No Waste Initiative, Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, Pine Cone Movement, Save 182, and Tongtongan ti Umili.

During the summit, participants broke up into clusters to discuss particular issues and possible solutions. The clusters were: Environment (which included clusters for waste management, trees and water, and air pollution), Land Use (which also included a cluster focused on BLISTT), Community Participation, Governance and Legislation, Well-Being and Mobility, Local Businesses and Tourism, and Heritage. Afterwards, everyone came together for a plenary session during which each cluster shared their output on two questions: 1) What do we want for Baguio? and 2) What can we do?

What was the outcome of the People’s Summit?

This document contains the People’s Statement, which was created from the common points that were raised during the plenary session. The People’s Statement was read to, and agreed upon by the body. It not only states what we want for Baguio, but it also puts forward commitments that we must make so we can all participate in improving local governance and in making this city a better place. Some of the concerned citizens and organizations that participated in the People’s Summit are already actively engaging the local government, working with their communities, and working on the solutions put forward by their clusters. Salient points from each of the cluster sessions are also included here, with a particular focus on possible solutions and actions that can be taken by individuals, organizations, and the local government itself.

 

People’s Statement

We, the people of Baguio want a city where residents’ well-being is paramount, where governance is built on genuine consultation with, and active and continuous participation of the people.

We want a city where our duly-elected leaders sustain engagement with the people and where that engagement results in the passing and implementation of laws and policies that will benefit the city.

We want a city where people from all levels have strong community spirit and where we all have the ability to bring about change in our own neighborhoods.

We want a rational urban plan and a healthy environment.

We want a city that is an educational hub and not merely a tourist destination.

We, in our individual and organizational capacities, commit to participate in collective efforts to bring about this much-needed transformation. We commit to begin with ourselves and our lifestyles.

We commit to critically engage the government and make our voices heard in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

We commit to participate in creating our local history and enriching our unique cultures and heritage.

We commit to protect and nurture our natural environment which is vital to our well-being and the generations to come.

We commit to unifying our various advocacies and to support each other’s efforts for the Baguio we want.

We commit to support and elect the leaders who embody the ideals we seek for the betterment of our city.

 

Community Participation

What do we want?

We want our residents to have a sense of ownership of the barangay.

We want to get to know our barangay officials better.

We want dialogues in which the concerns of residents can be voiced out, and addressed by barangay officials who are public-service oriented, not indebted to political patrons.

We want an active citizenry that will participate in governance at the barangay-level.

We want recognition of, and support for, purok- or sector-level initiatives to improve the barangay.

What can we do?

Get to know our neighbors, the people in our barangay, and get to know our barangay officials.

Go to our barangay halls and read and learn about the barangay development plan, or participate in its creation. Spread the word about the barangay development plan.

Form barangay-level monitoring and evaluation teams, and coordinate with the barangay officials.

Do socio-cultural, economic mapping, and historical research on our barangay, to appreciate significance of the barangay to the city, to highlight the capabilities and initiatives of residents, and also to show them the importance of their daily work, going beyond monetary value.

Start livelihood programs where needed.

Governance and Legislation

What do we want?

We want an informed citizenry.

We want a people-oriented government with accessible government officials, and better communication between the local government and the people.

We want ordinances or legislation responsive to the needs of the people.

We want a comprehensive development plan for Baguio City.

We want a new breed of government officials who practice transparency and are truly accountable to the people.

What can we do?

Campaign for local freedom of information.

Gather evidence and data that we can use to engage with the government.

Use the electoral process for voter’s education so that it is really the voice of the people.

Get the local government to institutionalize truly public consultations.

Come up with an online, watchdog forum where information and people’s concerns can be consolidated.

 

Well-Being and Mobility

What do we want?

We want a city where the well-being of the citizens is considered as important as, or even more important than purely economic growth.

We want a safe, ecologically-healthy city with nature parks in which we can all be surrounded by greenery.

We want pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly streets with electric jeepneys, less cars, and a centralized depot for public transportation.

We want transparency in the local government.

We want improved social welfare services and equal access to resources.

What can we do?

Practice voluntary simplicity and start in the home: live simple lifestyles, be disciplined.

Participate in forums and activities that relate to the development of our communities.

Campaign for the rationalization of traffic and endorse electric jeepneys subsidized by small or large business enterprises.

Participate in environmental activities because our environment influences our well-being.

Conduct educational and information campaigns on environmental values, especially for children.

 

Land Use and Zoning

What do we want?

We want better, more progressive urban planning for Baguio.

We want to see the government’s active hand in ensuring that land use and zoning policies are strictly enforced.

We want more public participation in determining land use and zoning policies.

We want widespread and truly public consultations.

What can we do?

File legal cases against violators of land use and zoning laws.

Put a hold or moratorium on the issuance of building permits for high-rise buildings until existing policies are properly reviewed.

Do research on culturally and historically significant sites, and work for the declaration of heritage sites, open spaces, and parks as “no build” zones.

Identify high, medium, and low intensity development zones and high or low impact zones.

Disseminate and sign a petition for the review of the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

 

Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay

(BLISTT)

What do we want?

We want citizens and government officials to reach a better understanding of BLISTT concepts.

We want BLISTT to be a multi-sectoral initiative, not just a government initiative.

We want a BLISTT authority that can be sustainable and that is not dependent on elected terms.

We want one BLISTT land use plan.

We want a BLISTT that is a melting pot.

What can we do?

Call for an inter-municipal consultation with other LGUs involved in the BLISST to unite on the concept and plans.

Establish a multi-sectoral BLISTT authority.

Advocate for sound BLISTT policies, and review and harmonize the BLISTT land use plan.

Share information with the public on the benefits of BLISTT.

Get our local governments to translate into budgets BLISTT projects that have already been identified.

 

Heritage

What do we want?

We want awareness on Baguio’s heritage among residents and tourists alike.

We want recognition of, and respect for, indigenous peoples’ part in creating Baguio’s unique heritage.

We want to put a stop to the commercialization of indigenous cultures in the name of heritage or cultural tourism.

We want to see the preservation and/or restoration of Baguio’s built institutions.

We want our youth to be aware of, and to value, Baguio’s heritage so that they can make it last into the future.

What can we do?

Initiate and participate in the cultural mapping of Baguio City.

Create legislative guidelines regarding indigenous traditions and lobby for a city ordinance protecting indigenous cultural practices from bastardization and commercialization.

Create and support an Ibaloy rennaissance.

Organize a historical book committee composed of historians and other academicians, and representatives of all local identities. The body shall be responsible for the research and writing of a comprehensive book on Baguio’s history and heritage.

Coordinate with educational institutions such as the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, and the National Service Training Program, to involve them in the cultural mapping of Baguio and in raising awareness on heritage.

 

Local Businesses and Tourism

What do we want?

We want unique Baguio products and brands.

We want education to be given more emphasis than tourism.

We want environmentally-friendly forms of tourism, to go hand in hand with a public transport system that encourages walking instead of driving.

We want new, “clean” government leaders and a government that will support local businesses.

We want to be better informed on the implications of ASEAN integration for our local economy.

What can we do?

Focus on Baguio as an educational hub, not just a city for tourists.

Be more creative in managing, packaging, advertising, and distributing unique Baguio brands.

Form a committee with the heads of local enterprises to present an agenda and to lobby the City Council to help local businesses grow.

Regularly choose to patronize local, small and medium enterprises.

Be vigilant and elect the right leaders in 2016.

 

Environment: Waste Management

What do we want?

We want a clean and healthy city. We want people to understand that in solid waste management, we must prioritize a healthy environment for all.

We want both Baguio residents and transients to be well-educated on the proper disposal, sorting, and segregation of garbage and waste, so that this awareness may be followed by behavioral change. Everybody is responsible for waste management.

We want to put a stop to the widespread use of plastic bags in the city.

We want to see a strong people’s initiative in enforcing existing laws and policies, such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and City Ordinance 26 of 2007 banning the use of plastic.

We want schools to be involved in raising awareness on, and implementing good waste management practices.

What can we do?

Reduce, reuse, recycle at home, in school, at work.

Be better informed on solid waste management issues, solutions, laws, and policies, and participate in education.

Promote the widespread use of eco-friendly packaging and materials.

Attend city council sessions on waste management, monitor the city government’s environmental activities, and take legal action to compel the government to enforce the plastic ban and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Establish, then replicate, a pilot community or barangay to implement alternative solid waste solutions and to demonstrate good solid waste management at the barangay level. This initiative could also involve the garbage collectors.

 

Environment: Air and Noise Pollution

What do we want?

We want clean, crisp, fresh air.

We want to be able to enjoy peace and quiet in our homes and to be free from the stress of high levels of noise.

We want Session Road to be a road for pedestrians, and Baguio City to be a walking city.

What can we do?

Stop the burning of plastics and other waste to support the strict implementation of Republic Act 9003: The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and Republic Act 8749: The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

Push for standardized emission testing. There should be only one reliable agency to handle emission testing.

Campaign for strict implementation of traffic management schemes that will lessen the amount of vehicles and their emissions on city roads.

Call for the institution of a higher tax on vehicles that are over five years old.

Compel the government to strictly implement city ordinances on videoke and karaoke bars, to enforce the use of sound-proofing materials in establishments that emit high levels of noise, and to ban videoke bars, karaoke bars, and dance clubs in residential communities.

 

Environment: Trees and Water

What do we want?

We want Baguio to truly be a City of Pine Trees. Trees are part of Baguio’s heritage.

We want the strict enforcement of protection laws and policies for trees, forests, and water sources.

We want real public consultation and participation in the process of issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificates and building permits for constructions and high-rise buildings that may affect trees, tree roots, and water sources.

We want legislation requiring the planting of trees before the issuance of various licenses, such as marriage licenses.

We want clean and ample water for all, and healthy and robust watersheds for Baguio City. There should be a limit to permits for drilling of water, which are currently being issued by the National Water Regulatory Board (NWRB).

What can we do?

Initiate barangay-level advocacies and activities such as the identification and documentation of all water sources and waterways in the barangay, the assigning of cleaning and maintenance of portions of rivers and/or creeks to families living in that area, and the policing of polluters. Encourage individuals, families, and households at the barangay level to plant at least one tree, shrub, or vegetables indoors or outdoors.

Push for a local ordinance/resolution putting a moratorium on drilling for water for commercial purposes and request that in the future, such permits should not be issued by the NWRB, but instead by Baguio-based agencies that can check the site intended for drilling and how it might affect the population living there.

Ask the Baguio Water District to inform and educate us on aspects of our water bill, and to detail non-revenue (wasted water) in particular, the cost of which is passed on to Baguio water consumers.

Conduct values formation and education campaigns to raise awareness on, and genuine concern for forests, trees, and water, using creative means such as theater, music, visual art, literature, and annual pine tree festivals.

Stage a media campaign on the values of caring for each other, preserving the integrity of creation, and protecting forests, trees, and water.

 

What happens next?

The answer is up to you, and up to all of us. The People’s Statement is a call to action. It challenges each of us to find a way to participate in good governance, which in turn, will lead to a better, more progressive Baguio and a happier, healthier citizenry. You, too, can directly engage the government on specific issues that affect your quality of life in Baguio.