June 24, 2024

The city government of Baguio’s initiative in having portions of Burnham Park titled under its name was done in good faith, city officials reasoned in their meeting with officials of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) last week.

In reaction to Tieza’s protesting the city’s move, City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said in an interview that Mayor Benjamin Magalong owned up to the city government’s action but explained the LGU’s intent is to protect the park from possible claimants as the recently titled areas are outside Original Certificate Title 1, which makes these areas alienable. 

He said the initiative of having these portions titled should have been by Tieza, but out of good faith, the City of Baguio started with the process.

As a sign of good faith, dela Peña said the team from the city government who met Tieza officials via online conferenceoffered to transfer the title in the name of the Tieza.

He said rather than Tieza filing a case in court for the nullification of the title, an option will be for the city to transfer ownership, subject to refund of fees and taxes the city spent for the titling.

He said representatives of the city will also ask for the Tieza to continue following the conditions set in the executive orders signed by then President Fidel Ramos, which transferred management of the park to the city; and then President Gloria Arroyo, which gave full control to the city to administer the park. 

City officials led by the mayor will travel to the Tieza office next week to iron out the conditions of the transfer.

The mode of transfer and how the city government will be reimbursed will be discussed in the meeting, dela Peña said, hopeful that Tieza will accept the city government’s offer.

In a press conference, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said he also suggested to the mayor to accede to what Tieza will ask.

Echoing what the city administrator said, Olowan said the titling was necessary in order to protect the area.

“Of course, as absolute owner, you can do whatever you want to do; as administrator, we have to submit to what the owner wants,” Olowan said, admitting that the executive orders issued to the city have limitations.

Application to title portions of the park started in 2019, on the mayor’s first term in office.

The city however, will proceed with the titling of Lot 6. Dela Peña said the city cannot backtrack as the process for application for issuance of title has already started but the same offer to transfer ownership to Tieza will be pursued, he added.

Lot 6 covers portions of the swimming pool at Athletic Bowl, Lion’s Clubhouse, and Pine Trees of the World Park. The city council allotted P2 million for the processing of title. – Rimaliza A. Opiña