December 8, 2023

The Bureau of Fire Protection will proceed with the development of its property in Baguio City following the issuance and registration of its patent by the Land Registration Authority.

This is despite the area classified as a park under the Zoning Ordinance and despite opinion by some members of the city council that constructing a building is contrary to the current administration’s thrust to preserve breathing spaces by keeping open spaces, open.

The 1,200 square meter property located at Kisad Road across Crown Legacy Hotel will become the city office and regional headquarters of the BFP. It is classified a public land by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is outside the right of way of Gov. Pack and Harrison Road, is outside the proclamation that delineated Burnham Park, but is zoned as a park by the local government.

The BFP is currently processing permits for the construction and according to Engr. Renato Bagnas of the BFP Engineering Division, the ori-ginal design has been revised to conform with the regulations of Baguio.

Bagnas, along with other representatives of the BFP, representatives of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the City Planning, Sustainability, Development, and Sustainability Office were invited at the city council’s session on Nov. 6 to explain how a patent was issued to the BFP when the assailed area is within the Burnham Park reservation.

The original design will be a five-story building where one level will be for parking and another level for the roofdeck.

Bagnas said as suggested by CPDSO, the building was redesigned to three floors only with mezzanine as they could not go beyond four floors because of the regulation that buildings in parks cannot go beyond four levels to preserve aesthetics at the area.

Easements have also been provided making the buildable area to about 900 square meters. He said at the street level, only the building’s top floor can be seen.

Councilor Mylen Yaranon said in accordance with the conditions in the presidential proclamation that allowed the city government to manage the park, no part of the reservation should be separated in favor of any entity or individual, unless permitted by the secretary of the Department of Tourism.

Even with the Cenro’s clarification that the area is public land and therefore alienable and disposable, Yaranon maintained that no structure can be built there owing to its zonal classification and its rugged topography.

She said there is a danger that the lower levels of the building can get flooded because of the large volume of runoff water that drains at the area where the proposed building will be constructed.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda also inquired about the issuance of a zoning clearance for the BFP considering the zonal classification of the area.

Elias Aoanan of the CPDSO said the office is evaluating the application of the BFP but might refer this to the Local Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals who will decide if it will exempt the BFP and issue a zonal clearance. – Rimaliza A. Opiña