SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano, during his visit to the City of Pines last weekend, underscored the need to develop the tourist potentials of the nearby municipalities of Benguet and integrate them with the development plan of Baguio City.
Cayetano said he supports the proposal of Baguio Rep. Mark Go which seeks to create Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay Development Authority (BLISTTDA) that will centralize and oversee development efforts and initiative of Baguio and the nearby Municipalities of La Trinidad.
The measure seeks to take Baguio City and the municipalities of La Trinidad such as Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay to a new level of growth that would achieve development that is sustainable, economically and environmentally progressive and people-centered.
“With greater connectivity, there can be greater opportunities of inclusive and equitable development. This can also ease traffic in the City of Pines,” said Cayetano, referring to the impact of having a railway system in the area.
To further boost tourism and business in the area, Cayetano proposed the need to be make the Benguet municipalities more accessible for tourists through better roads. He also cited the need to explore the construction of a railway connecting Baguio City to La Trinidad, as well as the expansion of Baguio City’s Loakan Airport to accommodate more flights.
“Kapag ang isang lugar kasi naging magandang tourism area, nagpupuntahan o naglilipatan lahat papunta dun. So pag nalilipatan lahat, sumisikip din. Then, yung ibang areas na katabi, hindi naman nagdi-develop -- parang nangyari din sa Metro Manila,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano recalled that during the visit of President Duterte in Russia in 2017, there was a discussion about the establishment of a railway system from Baguio to La Trinidad.
“Sana naman matuloy din yung train na gagawin from here to La Trinidad, not only for tourist na gustong makita yung strawberry field. Pati na rin yung gustong makita yung gulayan at saka makabili ng fresh na gulay dun but it will also provide cheaper housing sa mga nagtatrabaho sa Baguio and vice versa, di ba. Kasi noong nandun ako sa Russia and I think yung Russians ang interesado nun and sana nga matuloy,” he noted.
“We hope that Department of Transportation can look into the rehabilitation of the Loakan Airport in the City because it will ease the traffic and facilitate mobility of goods and people,” said Cayetano.
Loakan Airport is the lone airport in Cordillera, which was built in 1934. It ceased commercial operations in the 1990s after the 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Luzon.
He also suggested that the Northern Luzon Congressmen can have a consultative conference to better discuss the details of the different proposals for the area for Benguet and adjacent provinces.
The proposed BLISTTDA bill is pending in the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization.