BAGUIO City Mayor Mauricio Domogan wants to continue managing Burnham park.
Domogan is asking Councilor Edgar Avila to re-study plans to return the park to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) saying a war was waged by the city in the past to get control of the park.
He said if the city goes back to the same situation where the TIEZA and the Department of Tourism (DOT) manages the park, the same problem will arise with the perception the city is not doing anything to address maintenance.
The mayor also reminded of the failure of both agencies to deliver funding for the park’s upkeep which the city has since shouldered.
To maintain Burnham park, a fund of roughly P42 million is needed, ideally to be culled from its income, as the park was aimed to become self-sustaining.
Today, the park has an income of P18 million from establishments in the area which pay rent to the city. Rental of each establishment has been increased over the years from meager lease of as low as P5,000 in the past.
Domogan admitted the income of the park has not been maximized and lamented it was due to opposition to projects aimed to yield needed funds like a parking structure.
Avila’s move to return the park to the TIEZA is part of a committee report recommendation to ask the Office of the President, DOT and TIEZA to rescind the agreement placing management of the Burnham Park to the city and return it to the national government to oversee.
Avila earlier said TIEZA have the manpower, funds and means to rehabilitate the park, and this seems to be a response to the cry of stakeholders.
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.
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.
The report 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.
Councilor Elmer Datuin, chairman of the committee on tourism said the council will discuss the matter but has already given his opposition to the committee report.
“I don’t want DOT to manage the park. We have already experienced their management years back. It was a total mess and a disaster and it was at its dirtiest ever. The people of Baguio clamored for its return to the city and the city council passed a resolution for its return and fortunately was granted thru then pres. Fidel Ramos. Burnham Park is better managed by the city thru CEPMO and our Baguio tourism office,” Datuin said.