BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan underscored that the local government was never remiss in the administration, management and operation of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex for over two decades now contrary to wrongly premised perceptions that the city failed in the management of the city’s premier tourist destination.
The local chief executive underscored local legislators must seriously study the implications of a pending resolution returning the administration, management and operation of the park to the national government.
“We already had a bad experience when the park was under the administration of the national government through the National Parks Development Committee that is why we lobbied for its turnover to the local government so that we will be able to properly look into the development activities that is supposed to be undertaken pursuant to existing rules ad regulations,” Domogan stressed.
Under Executive Order No. 224, series of 1995 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos that turned over the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park to the city, the tourism department through the defunct Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), now the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), should allocate an annual subsidy amounting to P18 million to the local government for the sustainable operation of the city’s premier park located at the heart of the central business district.
However, Domogan disclosed the grant of the subsidy was good for a certain number of years and was discontinued for still unknown reasons that allowed the local government to heavily spent for the administration, management and operation of the park to date.
According to him, the local government is spending some P42 million for the administration, management and operation of the park annually but it only generates close to P18 million from the operation of existing concessionaires which is not sufficient to bankroll the park’s increasing expenditures.
He explained that if only the provisions in the order allowing the local government to maximize the operation of identified income-generating areas in the park, the local government will be able to sustain the operation of the park and introduce the desired improvements to help maintain its scenery considering that it is one of the most frequented places in the city daily.
The local legislative body is currently studying the merits of a proposed resolution seeking the return of the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park to the national government to ensure its sustainability since the local government reportedly failed to do its part in administering the park and its facilities pursuant to existing executive issuances.
Domogan warned that the return of the management of Burnham Park to the national government will result to more serious problems rather than solutions because concerned agencies will surely impose their will against what had been prescribed in proposed master development plans for the park which were crafted by responsible stakeholders wanting to help in preserving the state of the facilities for the benefit of residents and tourists alike.
By Dexter A. See