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‘Charter’s veto ill-advised’

BAGUIO CITY—The advisers of President Benigno Aquino III misled him in vetoing the revised charter of Baguio City, Senator Francis Escudero said. “We were able to pass similar charter amendments which contain the same provision on direct award of alienable and disposable lands to qualified homelot applicants,” he said. Escudero said Mr. Aquino was made to believe that the new charter was against the administration’s pro-poor policy. Subjecting the city’s alienable and disposable lands to public bidding would allow the rich and influential to own prime properties resulting in displacement of qualified homelot applicants. Based on data obtained from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources  in the Cordillera, there are more than 5,600 applications for townsite sales pending because the Secretary had failed to convene the clearing committee to start processing the awards to the qualified beneficiaries through public bidding. Escudero said the direct award of alienable and disposable lands to qualified beneficiaries will help the local government generate more funds for development projects and the delivery of basic services to the people of the city. He said charter revisions should have the people’s welfare in mind and not be mired in politics.
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