The approval of a resolution that simply sought to commend the proprietor of one of the city’s major tourist attractions led the council to invite offices involved in the implementation of laws on building safety.
In the approval of the resolution commending Igorot Stone Kingdom owner Pio Velasco, Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. saw the need for members to clarify the circumstances of the case that led to the closure of the tourist site in November 2022. The site has reopened in April 2023.
Cosalan said the Igorot Stone Kingdom case is a unique one and he wants concerned offices to shed light on some of his questions that are related to the implementation of the Building Code.
“I am interested in the Stone Kingdom case and I think we can learn from this case as regards to the implementation of the Building Code,” said Cosalan, a geodetic engineer, as he asked the council to invite the City Buildings and Architecture Office and City Engineering Office to one of its sessions.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon said she did not understand what the concern is if the invitation is to ask the offices being invited about the stonewalls, the main attraction of Stone Kingdom.
She said stonewalling, which is the main feature of the Igorot Stone Kingdom, is an indigenous way of slope protection.
“Is there a civil engineer who designs stonewalls? Perhaps, the questions we can ask should be about the safety of the other buildings, but I guess the owners already complied with the requirements,” Yaranon said.
The CBAO sued Velasco for allegedly violating provisions of the Building Code, but the same was dismissed by the Prosecutor’s Office that found the owners had complied with the requirements needed for the buildings inside the attraction area, a sprawling 6,000 square-meter property along Longlong Road at Pinsao Proper barangay.
The resolution commending and expressing appreciation to Velasco for his contribution to the city’s tourism was proposed in 2022.
It lauded Velasco for his innovation and for depicting the rich culture of the region and featuring the Igorot’s skillful stone-laying hands that created the stonewalls, and the representation of the old and modern Igorot culture and values.
“The concept is not only a representation of the structures made of stones like rip-rap walls, towers, and castles but will also educate the people on the rich culture and beliefs of the Igorots,” the resolution stated.
The committee on tourism recommended its approval during the council’s Jan. 22 session.
Aside from the CBAO and CEO, the council also invited the Baguio City Police Office to follow up on how the traffic management plan is implemented in the area, which has become notorious for congestion because of the volume of people and vehicles leading to the area.
The reopening of the park was subject to earlier conditions set by the city government, which city councilors who went to the site, said to have been complied with by the Igorot Store Kingdom.
Velasco was also invited to attend one of the council sessions. – Jane B. Cadalig