October 05, 2012
As the filing of certificates of candidacy comes to a close today, CEGP Baguio-Benguet joins everyone in looking forward to next year’s elections.
Instead of hinting at possible picks for next year’s local race, the Guild maintains that next year’s elections shall be an opportune time to raise the issues faced by the people of Baguio City and the Cordillera region in general. While the usual political gimmickry can be expected, the Guild enjoins the people to pause and reflect on the issues hounding the region and what next year’s elections role will be in addressing these issues.
At the beginning of the year, the campaign against SM Baguio’s plan to earthball more than a hundred trees to give way to a multi-level parking area seared and saw one of the largest mass mobilizations in the city for decades. This campaign initially took a mainly environmental package before it was broadened to include other issues like the wiping away of small businesses Governor Pack Road, accountability of the City government and the corporate greed of SM Corporation in the city where it apparently brings more harms than benefits. This issue kindled the participation of the citizenry in issues within the community. The formation of organizations and its corresponding results attested to the merits of collective action in acting towards the issues affecting every one.
In the latter half of the year, several issues of privatization plagued the City. From the Baguio General Hospital to the Athletic Bowl and the Baguio Convention Center, the prioritization of profit over public welfare was made evident. The Guild sees these proposals as all comprised in the Private-Partnership Program of the Aquino administration which aims to reduce spending on public services by encouraging private entities to share in the funding of services the whose provision is the government’s duty. With the advent of private entities in rendering these services, the gaining of profit became a key part of the equation. The predilection of the national budget towards debt and military spending proves costly to the basic social services which should be foremost in service of the constituency. If these privatizations are finalized, one can only anticipate soaring medical bills at the BGH and unreasonable fees to be paid before using the Convention Center and the Athletic Bowl.
Lest we all forget, before all the tumult raised by the SM controversy, there was the unresolved waste management issue that led to the fatal trash slide last year. Up to now, the City government continues to expend millions for the impractical transfer of the city’s waste to neighboring provinces.
As we all look forward to the mid-year elections next year, we must bear in mind these concerns of the City. As people in Baguio, whether as its native residents, eventual migrants or provisional residents, we must look for candidates who will put at the fore of its agenda these issues that matter most to Baguio citizens. Still, this should not keep us from acting on our own ways in order to arrest the problems besetting the city. After all, citizen involvement must not be limited to the electoral realm. The essence of democracy can only be lived by citizens who participate in identifying the issues that needs to be addressed and in actually resolving these concerns. Too much reliance on the bureaucracy does not usually lead to results beneficial to all.
Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915