The city government of Baguio has begun its search for the most outstanding citizens of the city, which, this year, will be predominantly conducted online amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Photo: Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong (3rd from left) and Philippine Information Agency regional director Helen Tibaldo (far left) join a meeting of the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) for the annual search for the city’s outstanding citizens, at the City Hall amphitheater on Monday (March 22, 2021). Regarded as the city’s top prize for its residents, the search comes at a time when many volunteers have emerged amid the pandemic. (Photo by Patricia Ann Gallardo-Marcelo)

“We can resume and do what we have been doing in the past months, virtual and online. We will do most of the stages of the search online,” said Dr. Elma Donaal, president of the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) and overall chairperson of the 2021 Search for Outstanding Citizens of Baguio, on March 23, 2021.

The SOCOB, a Securities and Exchange Commission-registered organization composed of former awardees, is the body tasked by the city government to conduct the search to ensure fairness and balance in picking the recipients of the highest recognition given by the city to its citizens.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a 2017 awardee before he was elected, said the search seeks to recognize individuals not only for their achievements in their respective professions but also for sustaining their efforts for the good of the people of Baguio.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, SOCOB vice chairperson and herself a former awardee, said nominees would be judged for their contributions to the community throughout their entire career and not only during the pandemic.

“The nominee’s community work should have started even before the pandemic and it should have been sustained. The person’s relationship with his fellowmen will also be looked into and there should be no administrative or criminal cases filed against him,” Tabanda said.

The SOCOB will accept nominations from March 22 until June 15.

From June 16 to July 16, validation, verification, and a background check on the nominees will be conducted before they are judged based on the search body’s criteria.

Nominees need to get a rating of at least 90 percent to advance to the panel interview round that will be conducted by members of the judging committee, whose identities will only be disclosed during the awarding ceremony on September 1.

Donaal said this year, awards will be given under the following categories: culture and arts; professional service; business; and community service.

An official holding an elective post or sitting in any of the committees formed by the mayor is disqualified from being nominated. (PNA)