Senate committee hears proposal on body to develop Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — The Senate’s government corporations and public enterprises committee on Friday conducted a public hearing on the proposed creation of the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA), which the Department of Tourism (DOT) sees as an opportunity to come up with a sustainable plan covering Baguio and its adjacent towns.

“The quality of life is the purpose of this bill, the common good,” committee chair, Senator Richard Gordon, said during the public hearing.

Gordon said they would need to re-draft Senate Bill No. 1692, or an act creating BLISTTDA, after the public consultation.

BLISTT refers to the towns immediately surrounding Baguio City — Benguet’s capital town La Trinidad, the mining town of Itogon, and the farming towns of Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.

“We are going to re-draft the Senate version and if we still need consultation we will conduct another one. We need to consider the council amendments,” he noted.

“I will move heaven and earth so that the President will sign it into law because it will be a game changer for the cities here, and in the country,” Gordon said.

The House of Representative had earlier passed the bill on the creation of BLISTTDA, which was then transmitted to the Senate and landed on Gordon’s committee.

During the consultation, the DOT discussed the importance of the creation of the agency.

“If an Authority would be put into place, then it would be easier to diversify the offerings of wider areas, which includes other municipalities, providing livelihood to municipal town folks,” said Venus Tan, chief operating officer of the DOT’s Tourism Promotions Board.

During the public hearing, Tan said BLISTTDA will provide a diversified and competitive tourism plan for the localities while providing options to tourists.

“Baguio is the melting pot of the Cordilleras, but with the rich resources of BLISTT, we can do more. Take for example, Sablan. We call it the fruit capital of our region. Tublay can be the caving destination, Tuba can be the place where arts and artisans can convene,” she said.

It would be a boost to the tourism sector in the area, and would address congestion and protection of destinations, which are hounding the country’s summer capital, she added.

Tan also said that tourism had proven to contribute to the economy by providing jobs, economic opportunities, and benefits to the people in the community.

“The idea now is to provide alternative areas that will try to make Baguio the way it was again and the only way for expansion is to look at the other municipalities around Baguio to develop their own positioning statements in tourism,” she said.  Pamela Mariz Geminiano/