BAGUIO CITY – Chances of proceeding with the development of Burnham Park got a big boost after officials of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) assured that the attached agency of the tourism department will not abandon the proposed improvement of the city’s premier tourist destination.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said that no less than TIEZA chief operating officer Pocholo Paragas committed to him that as soon as there will be available funds provided to the agency, the earlier programmed funds for the development of Burnham Park amounting to some P480 million will be prioritized for release to pursue the planned improvement of the park located at the heart of the city.
He stated that the plans for the proposed development of portions of the park were already submitted to the TIEZA as basis in the release of the funds that had been earlier promised to bankroll one of the supposed big ticket projects of the city.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat claimed the funds supposedly earmarked for the development of Burnham Park was part of the P12 billion from the TIEZA realigned and appropriated by the national government to bankroll the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) programs, projects and activities under the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 that was enacted into law last March 25, 2020.
However, the mayor said that despite the slight setback in the bid to development Burnham Park, the city will continue to use available local funds to introduce the programmed improvement projects in the various portions of the city park to sustain the limited improvements on the image of the park.
Earlier, the city government and the tourism department entered into a memorandum of agreement for the provision of the required funding support from the national government for the development of Burnham Park to contribute towards improving the state of the local tourism industry.
City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña disclosed that approximately 80 percent of the plans prepared by the city’s technical working group were included in the final plans for the Burnham Park development submitted to the TIEZA as part of the agency’s requirements for review and to support the supposed release of the committed funds.
The city mayor said that what is important is that the chances in the implementation of the Burnham Park development project still remains following the assurance TIEZA made that it did not abandon the project.
Burnham Park remains the city’s premier tourist destination being located at the heart of the city designed and named after American urban planner Arch. Daniel Burnham who was instrumental in master planning the city which remains as the country’s undisputed Summer Capital to date. By Dexter A. See