THE Department of Tourism in the Cordillera region is seeking to stop construction of a building at the Ibaloi Park.
DOT chief tourism officer Jovi Ganongan with Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) legal officer Michelle Rivera and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) city district office representative Henry Balitoc faced off with the City Council over the construction of a building at the Ibaloi park grounds for the use of the Onjon ni Ivadoy Association Incorporated.
Ganongan is asking the City Government to temporarily halt construction of the Ibaloi IP center at the Ibaloi Park grounds until all stakeholders are consulted.
During Monday’s regular session, the issue on the excavation at the Ibaloi park area at Burnham Park was tackled revealing the construction of a multi-level building with a basement funded by the DWPH through the office of Congressman Mark Go.
Balitoc in a presentation showed an appropriation of P3 million for a 13X 18.30M basement and a 19 X 18.30M stage level structure for the park with development totaling 585.60 SQ.M commencing without consent of the TIEZA and the DOT.
Executive Order No. 224, series of 1995 issued by former President Fidel Ramos turned over the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park to the local government and it was strengthened by Executive Order No. 69, series of 2009 issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The 34-hectare Burnham Park plays host to the Rose Garden, Melvin Jones football field, Baguio orchidarium, biking area, skating rink, Burnham Lake, old city library, picnic groove, Children’s Park and the Baguio Athletic Bowl.
Before the administration, management and operation of the park was turned over to the city, Burnham Park was managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) now known as TIEZA under the tourism department.
Ganongan said DOT is having reservations on management of the area given to the Onjon ni Ivadoy Association Incorporated as there has been no improvements to landscaping, maintenance as well as keeping true with the purpose of the park and reminded building structures are not allowed within the park.
The DOT official said the present structure at the Ibaloi park consists of a traditional hut only.
Ganongan added the area is described to be a garden but its state now is a far cry from what it is supposed to become adding the area needs to have landscaping, installation of materials depicting the Ibaloi heritage at the least which can be educational at the same time pleasing to the eye for tourists and locals to enjoy.
Councilor Joel Alangsab however countered the area is being used by the city as well as groups which may need the space for events and asked what aesthetics does the DOT need to have.
“What is your idea of unkept?” said Alangsab adding the Onjon ni Ivadoy Association Incorporated needs to have improvements like a stage and restrooms in the space.
Councilor Peter Fianza reminded the TIEZA and the DOT on the significance of the Ibaoi Parak saying it was through the late Cecile Afable why the city granted the space on condition the heirs of the Cariño clan will not pursue the ancestral land claim over the entire Burnham Park.
The city in Resolution 182 s. 2010 designated the area located between the Children’s Playground and the Orchidarium for the site of the Mateo Cariño monument as an Ibaloi Heritage Garden to be part of the Burnham Park master development plan.
Rivera said the TIEZA is acknowledging the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park by the city but would like to be enlightened with the constriction of at the portion of the park and seeks to assure that the general welfare of the city is served.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan in an interview said he has only allowed the construction of a stage and restrooms for the area with a Letter of Consent dated February 27, 2018.
The DPWH revealed a series of meetings with Go, Onjon ni Ivadoy Association Incorporated, heirs of Mateo Carino with city officials since October last year.
Ganongan, however, said it was only on March that their office was informed.
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on March 14, 2018.
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