AFTER the furor caused by the aborted leasing of Baguio's only athletic oval, host to many local sporting events, we turn our attention to a less stressful issue like the ongoing project for the fencing of the entire Burnham Park perimeter.
The prosecution of the fencing project through voluntary contributions and donations is being pushed by a private organization through a foundation established by Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Roman Catholic vicariate of Baguio and Benguet.
It is also supported by a committee of the Baguio Centennial Commission with local businessman and former media man Vic Agcaoili, head of a CenteCom Committee on Parks Development and Beautification. Rolly de Guzman, retired manager of the Baguio branch of Rizal Commercial and Banking Corporation, sits as the financial adviser of the Agcaoili group. Bishop Cenzon is also vice-chairman of the CenteCom.
During last Wednesday's meeting of the CenteCom, Jan. 13, the Cenzon Agcaoli-de Guzman group rendered a briefing for CenteCom members led by its chair, Dr. Virgilio C. Bautista, on the extent of the development of the park fencing.
Since the start of the project some months back, de Guzman said the total sum of P4,7000,000 has been raised through various donations and subscriptions to the project. De Guzman said of this amount, some P4,500,000 have already been spent with 76 spans of fence already in place. This fence runs along the entire Kisad Road frontage, on the southside of the park, Chugum Street along the Westside and portions of Harrison Road on the northside of the park. This represents roughly about 10 percent of the entire fencing project.
At this stage of the project members of the Cenzon sponsors are working extra hard for additional donors for the completion of the undertaking. While most of the donors are from private individuals composed of Baguio residents and former residents, Agcaoili said the fencing sponsors have started to tap corporate entities in the city, Benguet and elsewhere.
In the exercise of their so-called corporate social responsibility, local corporations like Benguet Electric Corporation, and the Baguio Water District have already sent their donations. Credited to Beneco are six spans along Harrison Road. BWD is expected to follow suit. De Guzman said other corporations such as Pilipino Telephone (Piltel) and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) are expected to also give their donations. The same may be true with SM City, Baguio; Philex Mines and Lepanto Mines. Other corporations outside Baguio and Benguet are also being eyed for possible donations.
Sadly, an incongruous voice said to emanate from the Baguio City Council is reported to have sought either the suspension or termination of the park fencing project. This stand is supposed to be based on a recently signed memorandum of agreement (MOA) consummated between the City Government and the University of the Cordilleras for the setting up of a comprehensive development plan for the entire Burnham Park site including the athletic oval. The entire Burnham development plan will be of no cost to the city.
However, what the proponent of the move to stop the on-going park fencing program failed to mention is that prior to the City-UC MOA, is a similar MOA between the City and the Cenzon-Agcaoili group authorizing the fencing project.
At this point when the fencing project is steadily on course, no effort to derail the job should be entertained. Perhaps in deference to the efforts of the group sponsoring the park fencing, the UC development planners of the park should incorporate the fencing project.
The argument that the fencing would bar the park from the public appears whimsical as the fencing itself provides entrances to the park through strategic gates, which could be used for ingress and egress purposes.
As explained by Cenzon and Agcaoili, the fencing project is basically meant to provide some kind of security and protection to park goers and as important, to improvements and beautification to jobs in the park site.
In fact, it has been mentioned by the head of the police detachment at the Westside of the City Orchidarium that cases of robbery inflicted on park goers have been reported to the police sub-station. This brings us to the need of coming up with a supplemental park development such as the setting of a viable electric lighting setup.
It is common knowledge that the park, especially at night, is quite a dangerous area due to its very poor lighting facility. Early morning joggers in the park could attest to this. They say if the city has money for the expensive transport of city basura to Capas, Tarlac and other superfluous expenses of the city spending for wholesale and needless lakbay-aral kuno of city officials and employees, why not funds for the adequate lighting up of the park premises which are steadily and continuously visited by residents and visitors alike. Once upon a time, the park was the pride of the city.
To say the least, it has become the bane of Baguio residents. The public wants no more promises from city officials on the improvement of the park. Tey want, they demand action with visible results. Of course, to many park goers it's too late to expect the incumbent city officials to do something about the park improvement considering the short period allotted to them to stay in office. These residents say, they might as well wait for the new set of elected city officials to do something for the development of the park. This is like saying, they will no longer vote for the reflection of the incumbent local officials who appear to have ignored improving the park area.
In fact, a proposal of Beneco to light up city parks (Burnham and others) at no expense to the city except, but of course, payment of electric power consumed, appears to have fallen on deaf ears as against public interest. Baguio might have better luck with a new, really bunch of elective city officials.
During the CenteCom briefing by the Cenzon-Agcaoili group, the matter of cost per span of the park fencing was raised. At P60,000 per span, it seems too prohibitive for some people and entities to shoulder, it was argued that, perhaps, a lower cost would entice more people and entities to pour in their fencing donations. Bishop Cenzon, however, said the cost estimates for a span of fencing was established by the office of the city engineer. He said the costs, which some quarters said were somewhat overpriced, arose out of the following circumstances: 1. the specifications or kind of materials used for the fence; 2. Labor, design and maintenance costs; and 3. other unspecified expenses. He said all these items are included in the report on expenses related to the project in the name of transparency.
For his part, Baguio Vice Mayor and Council Presiding Officer Daniel Fariñas came out in full support of the fencing project of the park as well as other collateral development work on the park. He said this stand reflects both his personal and official commitment.
Well enough, but there are 14 other members of the city who remain mum on the fencing project who, as the saying goes, are keeping their options in this regard close to their hearts.
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Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Cordillera Regional Office notified the Baguio Centennial Commission that Centennial Car Plates have expired and should no longer be in use otherwise they will be removed by DOTC personnel.