Mayor Benjamin Magalong told the members of Baguio City Council, last Monday, that the purchase of the P95-M land in Topinao, Tuba will open several economic opportunities for the City Government of Baguio.
“Once we purchase the land, we can raise the city’s revenue and at the same time generate jobs,” Magalong said.
According to the mayor, among these economic opportunities include the creation of a new economic zone where different industries will thrive or flourish.
He said the city government will also look into the possible expansion of the land once bought and converted into an economic zone.
The land consists of two parcels with TCT Nos. 016-2022000726 in the name of William Tan and Hazel Dominique Tan and 016-2022000727 in the name of William Tan, have a combined area of 63,585 square meters. The properties are being sold to the city government for P95,377,000.00.
Magalong also mentioned the possibility of utilizing the land as a townsite. He said several private individuals and companies had already expressed interest to partner with the city government for this possible undertaking.
In his letter to the city council, the mayor said the property acquisition is an identified priority project for the city. Its source of funding has been appropriated under the 2020 Annual Investment Plan through Ordinance 42-2020 which was approved by the city council in 2020.
Furthermore, he expressed interest in the prospect of strategically buying more lands within the La Trinidad- Itogon- Sablan- Tuba- Tublay (LISTT) area for the purpose of increasing the city’s revenue which, according to him, had stagnated since 2015.
“Prices of commodities have increased, yet the city’s revenue has stagnated. Our programs for infrastructure, social services, and health services are already being sacrificed. We need to look for more lands outside the city for our future projects to be able to increase the city’s income,” he claimed.
Arch. Donna Tabangin, the city’s planning and development coordinator, said the land in question, once purchased, will be included in the five-year City Development Plan and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
She said the city government is in active coordination with the Municipal Government of Tuba for any possible reclassification of the land depending on its future use.
Echoing the mayor’s sentiments, Tabangin explained that the city government needs to prioritize land acquisition in order to realize its infrastructure projects. She added the city government is already running out of vacant properties for future developments.
Tabangin said the land in Topinao, Tuba may be used for the city’s housing project in addition to the Luna Terraces Housing Project.
“We have a very big backlog. We need to provide 5,000 (housing) units considering the current population,” Tabangin stated.
Earlier, the land had been identified for “land banking” by the executive department.
Land banking is “the practice of buying land as an investment, holding it for future use and making no specific plans for its development.” (Oxford Languages Dictionary)
Tabangin said land banking will help ensure that the city government will have an ample amount of lands for all its “future development intentions.”
“Land banking is like securing a savings account. We might not know at the moment what we will use the purchased land for. But we will find out later once we identify our priorities in the future,” she explained.
𝘾𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝘾𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙘𝙞𝙡 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝘼𝙙𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙩
During the regular session last April 25, the city council deferred its action on the request of Magalong for the execution of the Absolute Deed of Sale on the ground that the matter needs to be thoroughly discussed.
Last Monday, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda raised concern on the residency of the beneficiaries of the possible housing project in Topinao, Tuba.
“They will no longer be constituents of Baguio once you put them there. And what would be the participation of the city government if they are no longer Baguio residents?” Tabanda pointed out.
Tabanda said the city government should first plan carefully before purchasing the land.
Councilor Michael Lawana inquired about the topography of the land, mentioning the presence of creeks and slopes in the area.
Tabangin said an in-depth land classification study at the site needs to be conducted to be able to determine how much of the land is buildable.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon said the development cost of the land might be higher than its selling price due to its topography.
Yaranon also questioned the timing of the plan of the executive department to purchase the land, saying the city had just started recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other concerns raised and questions asked by the council were about Return of Investment (ROI), road access to the property, conduct of a geo-hazard assessment, mode of payment, and completeness of documents.
The council scheduled an ocular inspection at the site on May 31, 2022, 8:30 AM. -Jordan G. Habbiling