BAGUIO CITY – The city government announced that the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) board approved the allocation of some P400 million from the agency’s funds for the improvement and development of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex to help sustain the robust growth of the city tourism industry.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said TIEZA chief executive officer Pocholo Paragas called to inform him the board approved P400 million for the implementation of various projects to improve and develop various portions of the city’s premier tourist destination that is located right at the heart of the city.
He claimed that instead of the earlier P500 million promised by tourism officials for the development of the park, only P400 million was granted by the TIEZA board as P100 million will be given to other local governments also needing the improvement and development of their own tourist attractions.
The city chief executive stated the P100 million earmarked for flood control in the park which was deducted from the proposed funding requirement for Burnham Park will be replaced by a similar allocation from the funds of the Department of Public works and Highways–Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) which will be implemented next year.
Earlier, the city government created a technical working group (TWG) to prepare the comprehensive master development plan of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex with primary consideration to previous plans submitted by concerned sectors like the University of the Cordilleras (UC) that donated the a master plan of the city’s premier park as its gift to Baguio city when it celebrated its centennial anniversary ten years ago but the same was not approved.
A Burnham Park comprehensive master development plan was subsequently approved by the city legislative body subject to possible revisions after the conduct of consultations with stakeholders prior to the implementation of projects in various portions of the park.
In 1995, former President Fidel V. Ramos issued Executive Order No. 224 which transferred the administration, management and operation of the Burnham Park from the former Philippine Tourism Authority, now known as the TIEZA, to the city government with an annual subsidy of P18 million from the national government. However, the subsidy was reduced to P10 million annually until the same was eventually scrapped that left the city government alone in shouldering the more than P40 million required for the decent maintenance of the park.
On September 1, 2009, former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 695 that concretized the ceding of Burnham Park to the city government as the national government’s gift to Baguio City when it celebrated its centennial anniversary wherein funds that will be generated from the concessionaires and lessees of portions of the park will accrue to a trust fund that will be used for the maintenance and operations of the same./Dexter A. See