By Vincent Cabreza, January 10, 2023; Philippine Daily Inquirer
Baguio City —The creation of an economic body that will govern Baguio and five adjacent towns in Benguet province will have to wait for the 2024 general appropriations law to receive an operating budget, but it should not delay its full operations, a lawmaker said on Monday.
In an interview, Baguio Rep. Marquez Go said it was “too late” to include the funds for the Metropolitan Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (Blistt) Development Authority in the P5.268-trillion General Appropriations Act of 2023 since the law that created the body, Republic Act No. 11932 (the MBLISTTDA Act of 2022), lapsed into law on the last day of the Duterte administration.
Go, who sponsored the Blistt Act, assured preparations were underway to ensure that the body, which was patterned after the Metro Manila Development Authority, would get its funding in the 2024 budget.
The lawmaker also suggested that Blistt mayors put up a list of potential applicants for the body’s administrator, to be appointed by President Marcos.
The original Blist (without Tublay) was conceived by retired urban planner Joseph Alabanza as a way to decongest Baguio and develop its adjacent towns into satellite financial and manufacturing centers or suburban residential zones while the summer capital was being restored.
Blist was also the framework used by European community experts who drew up a 1994 master redevelopment plan for both Baguio and Dagupan City in Pangasinan province.
He said the Blistt council would pursue major development projects, as well as jointly explore solutions to common problems like reduced drinking water supply, increasing solid waste and traffic, which have become intermunicipal issues.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, in an investment summit in December 2022, described Baguio as “one of the densest rural cities in the country, which is one of our disadvantages,” while emphasizing that the city’s investment area has “exponentially grown” by including the adjacent towns.
Baguio and La Trinidad were reintroduced as communities suited for trade and commerce, while vegetable-producing Tuba and Tublay and the mining town of Itogon are prime areas for production and manufacturing.
La Trinidad will require postharvest support given that it is where strawberries are grown and where salad vegetables sold in Manila are, according to the National Economic and Development Authority, which outlined Blistt investment projects at the summit.