Baguio hopes to rebound from slump, sets to undertake 51 big projects

Published July 2, 2022, 6:12 PM

by Comanda Rizaldy C.

BAGUIO CITY — From the previous 31, the city government here under Mayor Benjamin Magalong is looking to undertake 51 catalytic projects in its bid to advance the socio-economic development and environmental renaissance in the Summer Capital.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong announced to the public that he will continue his programs and projects in his second term to advance socio-economic development and environmental renaissance in the Summer Capital during his inaugural speech at Baguio Convention on June 30. Photo by Zaldy Comanda

Magalong said in his speech at the inauguration on June 30 at the Baguio Convention Center that the projects that are currently in various stages of planning and implementation are expected to create 3,500-4,000 job opportunities and a continuous revenue stream of P500-P600 million a year in a projection that will help the city’s economy rebound from pandemic-induced slump.

They are also part of the systems being developed to arrest social and environmental problems to save the city from hurtling towards urban decay.

He said the projects are ‘either conventionally sourced from our local funds, from financial grants from the national government and private entities, as well as from developmental investments through public-private partnerships and other modes of financing being explored since the City budget is not sufficient to support all programs and projects.’

First in the projects list are the health support systems, protocols and contingencies to address the continuing dangers of the coronavirus disease and dengue fever that put the infections under control. He said the city has contingency plans for these diseases and future outbreaks.

Baguio was one of the cities in the country that volunteered to be a pilot site for the Universal Health Care Act which will bring free health services to the grassroots. In the 3-year Devolution Transition Plan, the City is allotting from its budget a total of P171,960,000 for its implementation.

A total of P131 million is also being invested for isolation facilities and super health centers in barangays Aurora Hill Proper and Atab in Bakakeng Central.

Several Barangay Multi-Purpose Halls are now under construction, for renovation and for improvements to provide the environment where an empowered and accountable barangay governance may thrive and where public health, safety, welfare, and livelihood services are made available and accessible to everyone.

A total of P378 million was earmarked for these multi-purpose halls for Irisan, Bakakeng Central, West Quirino Hill, Asin, Pinsao Pilot, Engineer’s Hill, Bayan Park, Sto. Tomas Proper, Gabriela Silang, Pacdal, and Outlook Drive.

For satellite markets at Gibraltar, West Bayan Park, Middle Quezon Hill, San Vicente and Dominican, P98 million had been allotted.

The P200 million Smart City Command Center is now operational, providing quick response to critical incidents and on-site disasters and traffic situations and gathering essential data related to the environment.

Baguio aspires to become the first Smart and Sustainable City in the entire country by 2025. Utilizing this digital platform and its artificial intelligence features, the city can enhance governance, improve health and social services, manage and monitor all our critical assets and resources and protect the environment.

Collaborations are currently being done with DOST, UP and AIM in an P18-M research and development project called Project Minerva to further expand the Smart City capabilities. More systems are in the pipeline for future integration with the system.

The First Digital Transformation Center will be built in Polo Field in Pacdal at a cost of P892 million.

P538 millions is allotted for the Youth Convergence and Indoor Sports Complex, Athlete’s Quarters and Tennis Court Renovation. These shall be the space for countless opportunities for the youth and the people of Baguio.

The first socialized housing project of the City initially started with P105 million for land development and the construction of the first two buildings. An additional P320 million is now made available to complete the other eight buildings. An amount of P120 million is budgeted for the procurement of more lands for future investment opportunities.

P60 million is earmarked for the improvement of city roads, streets, sidewalks and waiting sheds.

The Green Walks Program was inaugurated in September 2021 and it will be implemented in Session Road, Carantes Street, Perfecto Street and in the parks area at Botanical Gardens, Mansion House, Wright Park and Mines View Park.

Pedestrianization and biking will continue to be promoted and mass transportation will be the city’s way forward to solve its traffic problems.

A Smart Mobility and Transportation Master Plan had been developed with technical assistance from a state-owned ST Engineering, a highly reputable Singaporean Company to make our public transport efficient.

In collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways, roads are being expanded and widened along major national roads around the city.

P246 million had been allotted for improvements of Wright Park, fountain, Irisan Eco-Park, Bayan Park, Post Office Park, Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

Green Houses at Busol and the Botanical Garden will also be constructed with a budget of P10 M.

The city is working on acquiring the P400 million to start the Burnham Park Redevelopment and the P355 million for the rehabilitation of Mines View Park. Visitor Information Centers worth P8 million and wayfinders are also projects that are being implemented.

Under negotiations for PPP modality are the P3 billion Public Market Development and P1.5B Inter-Modal Transport Terminal at Dontogan.

The city is also looking forward to approving the Sewerage Rehabilitation Project amounting to P3B. The city has found a partner to assist with the feasibility study for the Asin Hydroelectric Power Plant to maximize the potential of this city property.

Another ambitious project that is up for PPP is the P230-million Triple-A Abattoir and Cold Storage also in Dontogan as it is high time slaughterhouse is modernized and move its operations out of the central business district.

The city is working on forging a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines to redevelop the Governor Pack area, especially the Baden Powell Inn which is a heritage asset of the city.

The city is about to complete the first book of the Cultural Mapping Registry with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) that funded the P15 million for the development of the Conservation Management Plan for the Dominican Heritage Center.

The city will continue to spearhead projects for urban agriculture and edible landscapes in line with its effort to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Other catalytic projects under development will be the impending turn-over of the Maharlika Complex to the city, the waste-to-energy project with Sablan and the elevated mono-rail and cable system.

The city will continue to develop programs, capability building, and finding financial support for families who need alternative livelihood.

The city government is actively pursuing the digitalization of government transactions to make services more accessible, available and affordable to the people as it aims for an ISO Certification which will professionalize and improve the processes and eventually, the services.

To address the breached carrying capacity of the city, the best strategy is being explored for population management vis a vis the plan to become a livable city.

“This is the first order requirement that we have to develop in order to put back allowable densities in the different parts of the city. We are currently auditing the city, its people and resources, in order to develop a viable and equitable solution through an updated land use and zoning code,” Magalong said.

He said that in pursuit of these projects and programs, ‘we need to exercise prudence, and assert once again that City leaders should be fair and responsible, with high standards for ethics and integrity, with a recognition of full transparency and accountability.’