THE Office of the President wants to cut trees in Baguio City.
Reiner Balbuena, officer–in-charge of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), has forwarded to the Office of the Mayor an endorsement to cut 32 trees at the Philippine Information agency (PIA) compound at Lualhati drive.
The 32 Calindra trees to be cut were planted under the National Greening Program in 2011 and have grown from 6-8 centimeters in diameter with a height of 2-4 meters.
"According to the staff of the Mansion, the Office of the President wants to cut/remove the Calindra trees and replace them with Benguet pine trees," read the Cenro inspection report.
Balbuena is asking Mayor Mauricio Domogan for permission to cut the trees through a clearance to be issued by the executive stemming from a request from The Mansion director Carlota Pauly.
In an inspection report by Asuncion Gacadan it states "the trees applied for cutting permit is located within the PIA compound which is accordingly a property of the Office of the President."
Malacañang has unceremoniously ordered the PIA to vacate the historic Cordillera House at Lualhati Barangay.
A memo issued by Executive Secretary Rizalina Justol, the PIA has been deemed dilapidated by the Office of the President property inventory team who assessed the historic site in March, saying the house is weak and dilapidated and needs major refurbishment.
The area once vacated by the PIA, will be converted to become a cottage for Justol to have easy access to the Mansion to be able to hold meetings.
Locals bemoan the hurried ejectment of the PIA, which occupies the house where Fr. Conrado Balweg stayed, after signing a peace accord that paved way for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The Cordillera House also maintains a dap-ay, a sacred gathering place which has become a favorite venue for meetings for both government and non government agencies.
The Cordillera House was managed and maintained by the PIA and has become a neutral ground for all media and government alike.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has encouraged the local government to declare the Cordillera House as a local heritage and to provide an ordinance protecting it for posterity.
NHCP Chairperson Dr. Rene Escalante informed lawyer Christine Lovely Red, Director IV, Legal Affairs, Office of the Cabinet Secretary, that the Cordillera House is not listed in the NHCP registry of historic sites and structures.
Escalante pointed out the historical value of the said structure is of a local level, thus, the need for the local government to institute the appropriate measures to declare the same as a local heritage.
The NHC encouragement came after the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea transmitted to the NHCP Resolution No. 04-2017 of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) appealing to preserve the Cordillera House located along the Baguio-Boa-Itogon road ahnd to maintain the Philippine Information Agency – Cordillera Administrative Region (PIA-CAR) as its custodian.
The Office of the Executive Secretary was reportedly planning to construct a multi storey structure in the area where the Cordillera House is erected to serve as its satellite office in the future, among other purposes, and for the PIA-CAR regional office to be relocated outside the said area.
Veteran Journalists and BCBC past president Domecio Cimatu said the cutting of 32 trees within the PIA complex is an outrage.
“While we are trying to convince the youth to plant trees, the venerable Office of the Executive Secretary have given the order to cut it down," added Cimatu. (With a report from Jonathan Llanes)
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on December 06, 2017.
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