Baguio councilors seek Duterte veto of new city charter | Inquirer News

Baguio councilors seek Duterte veto of new city charter

/ 05:02 AM March 24, 2022

Camp John Hay. STORY: Baguio councilors seek Duterte veto of new city charter

Camp John Hay (File photo by RICHARD BALONGLONG)

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has been asked by a majority of the city council to veto a new bill modernizing the 1909 Baguio Charter, primarily because it does not allow residents to ratify “this most important” policy document.

During Monday’s session, nine councilors voted in favor of a still unnumbered resolution that expressed the body’s opposition to House Bill No. 8882, which passed the congressional bicameral committee and was transmitted to the President on March 10.


The council’s decision was made hours after its members questioned the bill’s author, Baguio Rep. Marquez Go, about supposed flaws involving the city’s territorial boundary, the Camp John Hay reservation, and Ibaloy land rights.


It would be the second Baguio charter amendment to be rejected by Malacañang should Mr. Duterte heed the council’s appeal to veto HB 8882 to give time for “further study and consultation” to address seven concerns about the new charter.

The previous House Bill No. 3759 was vetoed by the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for retaining outdated provisions that clash with present laws.

The 1909 charter was penned by Supreme Court Justice George Malcolm for the American colonial government, which designed and built Baguio as a hill station for the country’s American officials.

Go said he incorporated changes in the document so the charter would be applicable to current and future generations, citing a provision in HB 8882 for a mandatory indigenous peoples’ representative in the council.

Baguio’s original Ibaloy inhabitants were pushed to the fringes when the city was built, and among the few references to indigenous Filipinos in the original Baguio charter was the formation of an Igorot advisory council.

The Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160), Go said, does not require the Baguio charter to be subjected to a plebiscite.


But the council’s veto resolution argues that HB 8882’s changes are substantive enough to affect present and future Baguio residents, and must require a referendum, said Councilors Isabelo Cosalan Jr., Arthur Allad-iw and Fred Bagbagen, who were tasked with preparing the veto resolution.

For instance, the new charter separates the Camp John Hay reservation from the Baguio townsite reservation, which could impact on 19 conditions set by the city when it endorsed the lease of the former American rest and recreation center in 1994, Bagbagen said.

Among these conditions were the segregation of 14 Camp John Hay barangays and the recognition of Ibaloy land rights there, which Go should have included in HB 8882, he said.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan Jr. and five councilors who abstained cautioned the body about pushing for a veto over mistakes that could be corrected through separate bills.

HB 8882 first drew flak from councilors on March 7 when its contents were presented to them by Secretary Luzverfeda Pascual, presidential adviser on legislative affairs.



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TAGS: Rodrigo Duterte

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