Baguio, 5 neighbors form metro dev’t council
The summer capital and its five neighboring towns in Benguet formed a metropolitan development council yesterday, fulfilling an economic and resource-sharing arrangement that was proposed after the 1990 Luzon earthquake devastated the city.
The mayors of Baguio and the municipalities of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay signed a memorandum of agreement that makes them part of the development council covering what is now called BLISTT (the acronym stands for the cooperating local governments).
The council serves as a platform for drawing up a common strategic framework, as “a mechanism for resource mobilization,” and as arbiter to resolve conflicts, such as boundary issues.
According to the agreement, the BLISTT governments will create a common fund for the council, which will serve as a forum for dialogue until it develops a governing structure.
Leonardo Quitos Jr., Cordillera director of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and council member, said the group’s first task is to harmonize land-use plans.
The council gave itself until December to organize, plan and make residents aware of the initiative.
Baguio Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas said the city’s participation expressed the fact that it “cannot do it alone.”
“We won’t share problems but opportunities,” he said. He was referring to the initial objections that the cooperation concept was designed to dump Baguio’s problems on its neighbors.
When it was introduced in 1990 by former city architect Joseph Alabanza, now council adviser, the original concept did not include Tublay. Alabanza was Neda director when the agency conceived BLIST as a metropolitan arrangement that would plan a common land-use system given Baguio’s congestion problems, and the likelihood that investments meant for the city would be directed to its neighboring towns.
In 1994, urban planners, geologists and other experts studied the impact of the 1990 quake and completed the Baguio-Dagupan Urban Planning Project.
The project’s BLIST section proposed the creation of a suburban district in Tuba, after studying migration patterns, traffic and the BLIST geology. It also proposed the expansion of economic zones in other BLIST towns. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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