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Senate approves on 3rd reading bill paving way for sustainable Baguio development

The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading the bill paving the way for Baguio City's sustainable development.

With 23 affirmative and zero negative votes, the upper house gave its final nod to House Bill 8882 or the Revised Charter of the City of Baguio.

Bill sponsor Senator Francis Tolentino said that with the measure, the city would continue its legacy "as a symbol of enduring progress and rich history in the country."

“As one of the most loved cities by Filipinos and foreign tourists, Baguio City, through its revised charter, will surely secure sustainable progress that will redound not just to the benefit of Baguio residents but the entire country as well, most especially its indigenous people’s community,” Tolentino said.

The bill, which revises the 112-year-old city charter, seeks to create new offices within the structure of the city government, including the addition of a city environment and parks management officer, city planning and sustainable development officer, and the city traffic and transportation management officer.

Tolentino said this version is “probably the best one yet crafted,” adding that the current version of the measure with amendments ensures the sustainable development of Baguio City while preserving the rights of the indigenous people enshrined under Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997.

The bill also seeks to institutionalize the generation of renewable energy from waste through waste-to-energy and other technologies consistent with RA No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and RA No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

The city government, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Water Resources Board, and the Baguio City Water District, was also mandated to protect, conserve, develop, and substantially manage its forest lands and watersheds.

Once enacted into law, councils such as the City Creative Council, Smart City Council, E-Governance Council, and other bodies will be created in pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The original charter of the city was crafted in 1909 by the late Justice George Malcolm as a rest and relaxation area for the Americans.

The bill was passed on third reading in the House of Representatives last March 22. — DVM, GMA News