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Better trade, traffic seen between Baguio, neighbors

/ 09:18 PM November 05, 2012

BAGUIO CITY—Improved trade, a better traffic system and more housing opportunities have been established as the initial benefits of the economic cooperation between Baguio and five of its neighboring Benguet towns, a report presented by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to local officials said.

The mayors of Baguio and of the towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay signed a memorandum of agreement in July that officially established BLISTT (the acronym stands for all the towns and city participating in metropolitan cooperation).

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Officials of the BLISTT governments also joined a workshop in September, which determined the advantages of combining their comprehensive land use plans and projects.

In another workshop this week, Neda officials pointed out that the Aug. 27, 2011, Baguio trash slide that exposed neighboring Tuba to pollution; the rehabilitation of polluted Balili River, which runs through Baguio, Tuba and La Trinidad; the planned expansion of the Baguio City Economic Zone, and the traffic problems experienced by Baguio, La Trinidad and Tuba highlight the need for the joint development of the BLISTT communities.

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A circumferential road built around Baguio serves neighboring Benguet towns, the Neda report said.

La Trinidad Mayor Gregorio Abalos Jr. also observed that population growth in BLISTT demanded integrated urban planning.

He said La Trinidad’s population growth rate of 4.46 percent from 2000 to 2010 is “phenomenal” when compared to Baguio’s growth rate of 2.36 percent and Itogon’s growth rate of 1.82 percent for the same period.

Itogon, the host of the country’s first mining companies, is a first class town (with an average annual income of P55 million or more) like La Trinidad, where upland vegetables are traded, and Tuba town.

The Neda report said Baguio remains a regional center while the summer capital and La Trinidad serve as the primary education and commercial centers.

But the other BLISST towns are key sources of farm produce, mining and small and medium enterprises, which an economic cooperation can harness, it said.

Virgilio Bautista, vice chair of the Cordillera Regional Development Council, said BLISTT could also open areas for an economic zone. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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