The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) office in Cordillera is in the process of drafting a study determining the actual carrying capacity of Baguio City amid issues of environmental “degradation” and possible “closure for rehabilitation” recently hounding the Summer Capital of the Philippines.
“Some people think that Baguio has already exceeded its carrying capacity and the result of the study will be an evidence, a data to support (or not) the public perception that the city has already surpassed or exceeded its capacity to carry a certain population. Public perception is also included in the study to balance the result,” NEDA-Cordillera Regional Director Milagros Rimando said on Wednesday (November 21).
She said a draft of the study, titled “Urban Carrying Capacity,” will be submitted to the city officials on November 28.
It can also be a model for other urban areas in the country, she added, as it will include the carrying capacity of the environment, available land area, infrastructure, transportation, parking, and facilities and services like water and electricity.
“Parating pinag-uusapan on social media, na parang ang Baguio is overloaded with tourists na hindi na kaya ng kalsada, management system, parking area, which all points to the issue of carrying capacity,” Rimando said.
Evelyn Cayat, planning and development officer at the city hall, said the study being drafted by NEDA-Cordillera will serve as basis for crafting the city’s future – short, medium and long-term development plans – to address major issues and concerns confronting the city.
“Its results will serve as a basis of the local government in crafting the appropriate interventions addressing the major issues and concerns of the city,” Cayat stressed.
She said the study will serve as a baseline in the formulation of sustainable programs, projects, and activities of the local government that will ensure the sustainable protection of the environment while allowing a reasonable development in the city.
Cayat said Baguio has its zoning ordinance and comprehensive land use plan now serving as the basis in the implementation of the city’s development projects, including the building of structures for the overall development of Baguio.
She asserted the local government is also steadfast in ensuring the sustainable preservation and protection of no-build zones, forest reservations, and safeguarded lands, so there would be enough space available and the city’s cool climate and mountainous environment be protected and preserved.
Thousands of tourists go up to Baguio all year round mainly because of its cool climate.
Cayat claimed the local government remains vigilant in addressing numerous issues and concerns being raised against the state of development in the city.
She said the city’s development thrust is based on approved national and local laws, rules and regulations “necessary in advancing the state of development in the city.”
Rimando said Baguio’s population density is 6,000 people per square kilometer. Metro Manila is 24,000. Mandaue City in Cebu is 14,000, and Angeles City in Pampanga is 6,000, same as Baguio.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan had earlier asserted that the local government was never remiss in addressing environmental issues being raised amid the continuous influx of people to the city.
He assured residents, businessmen, and tourists patronizing the country’s summer capital as a weekend destination that “Baguio will never be closed,” adding the city government is addressing issues on the environment, traffic, garbage disposal, among others.
He claimed the local government is always cooperative with the policies, programs, and projects of concerned government agencies in the city, but steps must be done to ensure that the said activities conform to the context of a mountain resort city.
Aside from determining the carrying capacity vis-a-vis the available land area and resources in the city, the study will also include a list of bases for determining the carrying capacity of a certain urban area.
Rimando said the result of the study now being drafted for Baguio can also be replicated in other urban areas in the country, based on identified standards.
“There is a very big importance of this study because it will be useful not only for Baguio City but other urban places in the country as well, particularly in determining the carrying capacity of an area,” she said. Liza Agoot, PNA / ABN