Inter-local Cooperation Continues – The BLISTT Governing Council headed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong convened with Sablan mayor-elect Alfredo Dacumos, Jr., Sablan Vice Mayor Arthur Baldo, PEZA-Baguio OIC Zone Administrator Emmanuel Cortero, NEDA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen, Tuba representative Atty. George Fukai (top right photo, left to right), and Mayor Victorio Palangdan, Sr. during the second quarter BLISTT Governing Council Meeting held on May 18, 2022 at Baguio City.

The Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Governing Council met anew on 18 May 2022 at the RDC Hall, Baguio City to discuss House Bill No. 9215 creating the BLISTT Development Authority (BLISTTDA).

The BLISTT Governing Council articulated its commitment to the proposed BLISTTDA through the decision to allocate LGU fund counterpart to support its operations. Details of the BLISTT LGU contributions has been proposed to be included in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the proposed BLISTTDA bill as consultations with the local legislative councils shall be ensured. This is similar to the proposed bills establishing the Metro Davao Development Authority and the Metro Cebu Development Authority which provides for an LGU fund counterpart in the bills’ IRR.

NEDA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Stephanie F. Christiansen presented estimates on possible BLISTT LGU fund counterpart arrangements based on LGU’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) dependence and assumed scenarios. The deferment of the contribution for three years from the creation of the Authority was also considered to allow the LGUs’ economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The sharing of resources from the BLISTT LGUs ensures sustainability of the BLISTTDA and eases access to funding for inter-local projects from external sources.

The BLISTT is the region’s commercial, service center and major industrial center as well as the tourism gateway of the Cordillera. The proposed BLISTTDA aims to provide legal basis for the existing BLISTT inter-local cooperation. The BLISTTDA shall perform planning, monitoring, and coordinative functions for common development concerns and initiatives. It shall also provide services such as the development of medium- and long-term development plans, land use planning, transport and traffic management, and solid waste disposal and management, among others.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, Chairperson of the BLISTT Governing Council, also underscored the importance of the BLISTT LGUs’ collaboration in projects that will benefit the inter-local cooperation. Mayor Magalong also proposed a meeting with the newly elected BLISTT mayors and their respective councils to advocate the proposed programs, projects and activities in the Master Plan, and increase BLISTT engagement among other local officials.

The BLISTT Council also awarded certificates of appreciation to the outgoing BLISTT mayors Victorio T. Palangdan, Sr. and Manuel B. Munar, in recognition of their active involvement in BLISTT inter-local cooperation efforts, especially at the height of the pandemic. Mayor Palangdan ensured continuity of BLISTT support through his endorsement to the newly-elected officials in Itogon, while Sablan mayor-elect Alfredo Dacumos, Jr., who was present during the meeting, expressed interest in sustaining Sablan’s engagement in the inter-local cooperation.

The BLISTT Governing and Development Councils were organized through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the mayors of Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay on 17 January 2014 to pursue inter-local cooperation. NEDA-CAR acts as the interim Technical Secretariat of the BLISTT Councils.