BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulto-Puyat to study her position on the possible return of the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park from the local government to the tourism department and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
The local government reminded Secretary Puyat of the status of the city’s premier park when it was under the administration of the Philippine tourism Authority – National Parks Development Committee (PTA-NPDC) where there were numerous complaints from no less than local officials and residents on the alleged mismanagement of the operations of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex.
He explained that the sorry state of Burnham Park at that time prompted him and former Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara to request former President Fidel V. Ramos to issue a directive that will turnover the administration, management and operation of the park to the city that resulted to the issuance of Executive Order No. 224, series of 1995.
Under the said order, the local government will be tasked to administer, manage and operate Burnham Park while the PTA-NPDC will provide an annual subsidy of P18 million to the city as subsidy for its upkeep as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country’s undisputed Summer Capital.
For some time, Domogan disclosed that the PTA had been providing the subsidy but it was later reduced to P10 million annually before it was totally scrapped when the PTA was scrapped and replaced with the TIEZA that left the local government singe-handedly raising the funds for the maintenance and operation of the park.
Earlier, Secretary Puyat expressed her support to the proposed bill pending in Congress for the turnover of the administration, management and operation of the park from the local government to the tourism department and the TIEZA to allow its sustainable maintenance and upkeep.
Domogan revealed that for the simple maintenance and operation of Burnham Park with the least infrastructure development done in the said complex, the local government is spending over P42 million annually whi8lt it is only able to generate some P18 million from the lease of some of the facilities to existing concessionaires which means that the city is heavily subsidizing its operations without the needed support from the national government.
EO 224, series of 1995 was enhanced by EO 695, series of 2009 issued by former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which bolstered the local government’s powers in administering, managing and operating the Burnham Park complex which is one of the premier tourist destinations being frequented by thousands of residents and visitors daily.
He welcomed the position of Secretary Puyat for a continuing dialogue on the administration, maintenance and operation of Burnham Park so that it will be operated pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations that will ensure its sustainable preservation and protection for the benefit of the greater majority of the residents and visitors alike, especially those who frequent the facilities daily.
By Dexter A. See
Banner photo by: Armando M. Bolislis