May 25, 2024

Barely a year after it started operating as a tourist site, the Igorot Stone Kingdom located in a private property at Pinsao Proper, Baguio City has been closed by the city government for absence of permit to operate and for safety issues.

The City Buildings and Architecture Office also filed a criminal complaint against site owner Pio Velasco for alleged violation of the National Building Code.

IGOROT STONE KINGDOM CLOSED — The city government of Baguio through the City Permits and Licensing Division has already padlocked the Igorot Stone Kingdom along Pinsao Proper by virtue of a closure order signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong due to the management’s failure to comply with the permit requirements and due to safety issues. — Harley Palangchao/Neil Clark Ongchangco

The 6,000-square-meter Igorot Stone Kingdom, which gained prominence as a tourist attraction for showcasing the Igorots’ skills in masonry, is said to be located in an erosion prone area, based on the climate risk and vulnerability assessment by the Asian Development Bank and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

The Public Information Office of the City Mayor’s Office reported as early as June, Velasco has been notified of the violations and was advised to comply with requirements but did not heed the order of the city government.

A cease and desist order was also issued but the management proceeded with the building of more structures, the PIO reported.

In a statement, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he will not hesitate to order the closure of erring establishments if public welfare is compromised.

“General welfare weighs more than personal benefits. We will not hesitate to close down establishments when the safety of our constituents and tourists is found to be at risk due to non-compliance with structural safety laws,” the mayor said.

Construction of the Igorot Stone Kingdom started at the height of Covid-19 and began operating as a tourist attraction in 2021.

The Midland Courier tried to get Velasco’s comment but have yet to receive a response as of press time.

But in an earlier interview with reporters, Velasco said he respects the closure order from City Hall, as the management is in the process of completing the requirements for business permits. – Rimaliza A. Opiña