Two days after he was proclaimed, newly elected Baguio City Representative Marquez Go met with some RDC officials.
The meeting was conducted on May 12, 2016 at the RDC Hall, NEDA-CAR, Baguio City. It was arranged by RDC Vice-Chairperson and NEDA-CAR Director Milagros Rimando upon the request of the incoming congressman who said he wanted to meet with the heads of the RDC member-agencies to familiarize himself with their agency programs and projects. He also wanted to discuss with them his priorities for the city and get their insights as well as suggestions on legislative measures he may pursue during his term.
In attendance were the heads of DAR, DBM, DILG, OCD, DSWD, MGB, PRC, DOH, DOLE, TESDA, DepED, CHED and NEDA. Representatives of DTI, NHA, HUDCC, DOTC, DA, and DPWH joined in.
Congressman Go expressed his vision of a comprehensive, modest but organized development for Baguio City. Reiterating his campaign promise, he said he will support the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) agenda of the RDC by pushing for the creation of the BLISTT Development Authority. He believes this will “help decongest Baguio City, and more importantly, promote development in the other BLISTT municipalities”.
Director Rimando apprised the Congressman of the various development priorities of the RDC. She talked about the RDC’s plan to identify alternative sites for the expansion of the Philippine Export Processing Zone, presently located in Baguio City. She said that this is one of the concerns being tackled in the BLISTT.
She also informed that the RDC is pushing for an operational Baguio City Airport. The Congressman promised to study this carefully, noting the limitations of the present Baguio airport and the presence of other options that are now available for people who want to go to Baguio. Director Rimando said the RDC will set a meeting of the Congressman with concerned government agencies and businessmen to discuss in more detail this RDC proposal as well as the results of a study conducted on the Baguio Airport by the RDC Infrastructure Committee.
Congressman Go said that he would also like to focus on pressing environmental issues such as the solid waste problem in the city. He expressed the need to appropriate more funds for government hospital and facilities for the purchase or upgrading of equipment such as dialysis machines to make them more accessible to the poor who need them. He also promised to look into the concern of local health personnel such as the Barangay Nutrition Scholars, Health Workers, and Nutrition Officers which he noted were given too many responsibilities but very little pay. Noting the rising incidence of mortality caused by serious illnesses in Baguio City, he suggested the conduct of a study on these illnesses and come up with recommendations on how these can be prevented.
Other concerns were also raised by some agency heads. Director Nathaniel Lacambra of DOLE expressed the stifling congestion, decreasing water supply, and need for a comprehensive housing program for the city. The congressman remarked that there is a need for a balance between environment and development.
PRC Director Teorfilo Gaius Sison also shared his observation that CAR needs a government center in Baguio City since government offices are scattered all over the city, even spilling over to the nearby La Trinidad, and about 25 to 30 government agencies are still renting offices. In response to this, the congressman promised to look at how the use of under-utilized government buildings can be rationalized.
DILG Director Marlo Iringan requested the Congressman to help articulate the DILG’s pursuit of accountability and good governance, especially among local government units. The Congressman promised that he will lead by example and that his term would be characterized by transparency, and will always “walk the talk”.
The pursuit of autonomy by the RDC was also discussed. He said that while he has already been briefed on this, he admitted he still needs to study it more carefully and listen to what the people really need and want.
The Congressman ended the one and a half-hour meeting with a commitment and an appeal: “Asahan po ninyo na ako’y tutulong sa inyo. Sana’y magkaisa tayong lahat”.