Issue of July 25, 2010
Mt. Province

63rd Courier Anniversary Issue
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Solon wants Burnham Park returned to national gov’t
by Dexter A. See

Rep. Bernardo Vergara here filed a legislative measure declaring the historic and scenic Burnham Park, the city’s prime tourist destination, as a national park and appropriating the necessary national funds for its maintenance, administration, operation and development.

Vergara’s bill reiterates the intent of past legislative measures submitted to  the 10th Congress as embodied in House Bill (HB) 1765, the 12th Congress under HB 3477, the 13th Congress under HB 2001, and in the 14th Congress contained under HB No. 509 to have Burnham Park as a national park worthy of national support befitting its historical significance and tourism generating potential in Northern Luzon.

The lawmaker said funds that will be provided by the national government will be used to continuously upgrade the park’s existing facilities and creation of new tourist-catering eco-friendly facilities to ensure that tourists will be coming back and forth to this mountain resort city to have a glimpse of the innovations in the park based at the heart of the city.

Burnham Park was designed and developed in the 1930s by famous American architect Daniel Burnham, a noted urban planner of his time known for his creation of famous American cities like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Philippine historical records also indicate the importance of Burnham Park to the city’s continuous growth and development as a premier tourist destination north of Metro Manila, having served as a crowd-drawing attraction of the city.

Records show that Burnham Park occupies over 31.6 hectares of land area and it features among others a man-made lagoon, a soccer field and parade grounds, beautifully landscaped greenery, a forested enclave, an outdoor sports area, a skating rink, a children’s playground, biking area, and picnic sections for promenading residents and visitors.

Vergara said Burnham Park serves as an ecological sanctuary and nature’s lung facility, thus, its scenic beauty and lush environments have made the park a favourite promenade place of this mountain resort city.

In 1981, former president Ferdinand Marcos transferred the maintenance and operation of the park from the city government to the national government by virtue of Presidential Decree 1762 and the same was subsequently ceded to the Philippine tourism Authority (PTA) through Proclamation 2144 and later on in 1989 to the National Parks Development Committee.

Through Executive Order 224 signed by former President Fidel Ramos in 1995, the park’s management, administration, and maintenance were transferred to the city government with provisions for annual upkeep and development needs subsidized by the PTA.

Vergara claimed in the last 10 years, as foreseen by previous legislative submissions, the city government experienced financial difficulty in addressing Burnham Park’s annual maintenance, operations, and development needs given the drastic budgetary reductions in PTA’s contractual obligations despite applying proper management procedures, which harnessed private sectoral assistance.

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