BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan welcomed the possibility of the city undergoing rehabilitation but stressed that the restoration should not be treated as a total closure like what was done to Boracay island.
The mayor was reacting to the pronouncement made by Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Unit Concerns Benny Antiporda that Baguio will be the next local government unit to undergo rehabilitation after Boracay, Palawan and Bohol.
“We welcome the help of the DENR if they can further augment what we have been doing with the EMB (Environmental Management Bureau) and the MGB (Mines and GeoSciences Bureau) in rehabilitating portions of the city that need rehabilitation,” Domogan said.
“But we do not like is to generalize that Baguio will be like Boracay because Boracay’s case is entirely different and there is no need for the city to be closed in order to rehabilitate. Baguio is a landlocked area aside from serving as a gateway to other areas in the different parts of Northern Luzon,” he added.
He said the city has been addressing concerns on water and air pollution with projects and programs that have been in place for years now, most of which are in collaboration with the DENR Cordillera.
The mayor cited the city’s requirement for households and establishments to have their own septic tanks.
He said regular inspections are conducted with the violators whose sewer lines are directly drained in canals are notified and penalized.
The city also sustains its Salaknib ti Waig river reclamation project in collaboration with the private sectors where regular conferences are held to monitor the quality of the water in the river tributaries in the city.
He said the problem on piggeries has been addressed by the EMB in the light of a national law banning piggeries in cities.
“The law has somehow been humanized and the EMB agreed to give the piggery owners a three-year moratorium on the condition that they will provide their own septic tanks that are compliant with the law to prevent the dirt from flowing into the waterways,” he said.
As to the air pollution, he said the city has been addressing it being one of the first cities to install an apparatus to regularly measure and monitor the air quality in various areas in the city also in tandem with the EMB.
The city is also one of the first few cities in the city to partner with Clean Air having been chosen as a pilot area for Clean Air Certification, an international recognition of “innovative and impactful, voluntary action towards better air quality” given by the Clean Cities Air Partnership Program through the CAA.
The mayor also cited efforts to curb air pollution through the anti-smoke belching ordinance where a task force remains active in monitoring and apprehending vehicles emitting excessive smoke.
There were also the smoke-free and plastic-free ordinances being actively implemented.
As to the traffic woes, the mayor said the city government in partnership with the city police has continuously been searching for solutions and even engaged the help of other local government units.
“Unfortunately this is not an easy task as there are no laws banning the entry of tourists and preventing people from buying vehicles and we cannot just widen our roads as our city is planned to be good for only 25,000 with the adjoining lots all titled and occupied,” the mayor said.
He said apart from constant traffic route and campaign readjustments, one solution being pursued is the improvement of alternate roads in the outskirts to decongest the central business district.
The mayor added that geological hazards in the city had been mapped also in coordination with the MGB-CAR and people are amply and constantly warned against occupying said areas.
In all these concerns, the mayor admitted that the city has to do more since the problems cannot be solved overnight and the help of the DENR will be most welcome.
“If DENR can come in to further augment what we are doing then we are glad because we have been partners in these programs and we appreciate the efforts of DENR-CSR regional director Ralph Pablo, EMB-CAR director Reynaldo Digamo and MGB-CAR Director Fay Apil who are very dedicated to their jobs,” the mayor said./Aileen P. Refuerzo