GSIS studies offer to purchase tree park

BAGUIO CITY – The management of the Government Service Insurance Corporation (GSIS) is currently studying the offer of the City Government to purchase its property located near the Baguio Convention Center so that the local government will be able to maintain it as a tree park that will form part of the city’s greenbelt area for the benefit of the local residents.

In his letter to Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, GSIS President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara said the State insurance corporation is looking into the impact of the purchase to a pending civil case and to the company’s social insurance fund.

Earlier, the City Government expressed its interest to purchase the GSIS property located near the Baguio Convention Center so that it will be able to sustain its maintenance as a tree park and part of the city’s greenbelt area to prevent the introduction of massive developments in the area similar to what had been proposed by a giant chain of malls to build a high rise condominium style structure for high-end buyers.

“The property is subject of Civil Case No. 6935-R pending before the Regional Trial Court Branch 60 entitled GSIS versus the City Government of Baguio et al,” Vergara stated in his letter.

The GSIS Official underscored the said property forms part of the assets of the social insurance fund and is currently valued in GSIS books at P336 million based on an appraisal conducted last November 7, 2015 by the corporation’s external appraiser.

According to him, it is important for the insurance corporation to thoroughly review the offer of the local government with due consideration to other factors that may have impact to the supposed sale once it will materialize in the future.

“We shall submit our recommendations to the GSIS Board of Trustees on the matter right after our pool of experts will come out with their recommendations on whether or not to pursue the sale of the property,” Vergara said.

It can be recalled that the City Government purchased the Baguio Convention Center and the 1-hectare parking space around the facility from the GSIS through its accumulated share from the lease rentals of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) lodged with the State-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The tree park which was previously p[art of the Baguio Convention Center property prior to the sale of the latter was the subject of a previous controversy after the SM Investment and Development Corporation proposed to develop the area by building several high rise condominium structures that will result to the eventual cutting of the thousands of fully-grown trees that serve as part of the city’s buffer zone as it is only one of the few remaining tree parks in the city.

It can be recalled that GSIS earlier requested the City Government for a swapping of lands in order to abate the pursuit of the condominium project which was vehemently opposed by environmentalists./By Dexter A. See


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