BAGUIO City Councilor Edgar Avila wants to return Burnham Park to the National Government.
Avila, who heads the committee on urban planning, lands and housing, recommended in a committee report that the Council ask the Office of the President, Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) to rescind the agreement placing the management of the Burnham Park to the City and return it to the National Government to oversee.
Avila also recommended the approval of the University of the Cordilleras master development plan for Burnham Park, as well as the university to update the plans made years ago to adapt to the changing times.
In the same report, Avila sought the Supreme Court to take a second look at the doctrine that parks are beyond the commerce of man, because it is not in tune with reality and the changing times through a petition for declaratory relief.
Executive Order 224, series of 1995 issued by former President Fidel Ramos turned over the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park to the local government. It was strengthened by Executive Order 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 were turned over to the City, Burnham Park was managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) now known as Tieza under the tourism department.
In the past, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) stressed the historical significance of Burnham Park and its preservation as an open space.
The park is considered an important cultural property, considering its more than 50 years in existence as mandated by under article III Section 5 of the Republic Act (RA) 10066.
Prior to the American occupation, Burnham is a wide open space that was referred to as Kafagway. In 1904, it was developed into a park, based on the design of Daniel Burnham as influenced by the "City Beautiful Movement."
Since its inauguration, the park, functions as a breathing space and center for public congregation. It also served as a venue for local and international gatherings such as the Baguio Carnival (1915), Baguio Carnival and Exposition (1923) and Pontifical Mass of Pope John Paul II (1981).
The NHCP already wrote Mayor Mauricio Domogan in 2017 concerning the construction of a multi-storey car park, saying the agency has always advocated the open space policy, where people can congregate and enjoy the natural setting.