BAGUIO City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is asking the City Council to wait for development plans of the Burnham Park complex before any declarations for a heritage site is made.
In a letter to the council, the mayor said the declaration of Burnham as a National Heritage Park at this time, though well intentioned, may be the cause of additional steps they need to undertake in implementing pending rehabilitation and development projects in the park, including those that are covered by the agreement with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).
Weeks ago, the legislative confirmed the 34-hectare Burnham Park as a heritage park and for a historical marker to be installed in the area by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
The resolution conveyed the declaration is in line with the local government's policy to extend full support for heritage site preservation, as well as full recognition of its historical significance and to allow the installation of a historical marker in the area by the concerned government agency.
"I find that any such declaration for Burnham Park is better suited after we have completed our development plans and it is for this reason that I shall not be affixing my signature on the above mentioned resolution," Magalong said.
The 34-hectare Burnham Park was named after the American urban planner, Daniel Burnham who produced the city's master plan during the American colonial period. Burnham's clusters include the man-made lake, children's playground, skating rink, Rose Garden, Orchidarium, Igorot Park, Melvin Jones Grandstand, Athletic Bowl, picnic grove, Japanese Peace Tower, Pine Trees of the World and Sunshine Park.
Before the pandemic, Tieza allocated P20 million for landscaping of the Burnham Lake as an initial wave of support from the tourism body to the city government.
Tieza has also voiced support for the pending proposal in Congress for the declaration of Burnham Park as a national heritage to give the agency more reason to infuse funds to sustain the efforts to preserve and protect the park and to regulate the put up of infrastructure in one of the country's icon landmarks.
In 2015, the NHCP recognized the national historical significance of Burnham Park where it proposed to install a historical marker at Burnham Park subject to the conformity of the local government.
Further, the NHCP claimed that the park is considered an important cultural property because of its more than 50 years of existence pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10066.
Proposals to develop parts of the park for a parking facility was also faced by opposition.
The council anchored its decision on Section 5, Article 3 of RA 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, that states for purposes of protecting a cultural property against exploitation, modification or demolition, certain works, including structures dating at least 50 years old, should be considered important cultural property, unless declared otherwise by the pertinent cultural agency.