October 2, 2023

Several members of the Baguio City Council lauded the initiative of the executive department to title portions of Burnham Park in the name of the city government of Baguio.

Councilor Jose Molintas said having a title over Burnham Park will allow the city government to “clear the irregularities” happening therein including illegal occupation, adding that the city government does not intend to remove the jurisdiction of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) over the area.

During the regular session last April 24, the city council approved the proposed additional fund in the amount of P2 million for the titling of other portions in Burnham Park and other areas in the city that are being used by the city government. 

The recently titled portions are referred to as Burnham Lot 1 with a total area of 182,045 square meters. This lot covers the picnic grove, skating rink, the parking area fronting Tiong San Harrison, City Environment and Parks Management extension office, City Library, Burnham Lake, Children’s Playground, Orchidarium, bicycle area, Rose Garden, Melvin Jones Grandstand, food stalls, Igorot Garden, and Ibaloy Park.

The title, called Original Certificate of Title 2023000017, was issued on March 3.

After acquiring a title for Burnham Lot 1, the city government is now pursuing the titling of Burnham Park Lot 6 which covers portions of the public swimming pool, and Lions Club and Pine Trees of the World with an area of 10,021 square meters. However, City Planning and Development Officer Donna Tabangin said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had returned the titling application of the city government for Lot 6 due to some issues with its adjacent lots.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said the city government will apply for all areas in Burnham Park that are not covered by Original Certificate Title 1.

With an area of 299,083 square meters, OCT 1 is under the Insular Government and is managed by the DENR. Portions of Burnham Park covered by OCT 1 include the Athletic Bowl and the lots where the old city library and old auditorium were located. 

These land titling initiatives were started by former mayor Mauricio Domogan and are being completed by the current administration.

Burnham Park is a historic urban park in the city covered by Proclamation 64, s. 1925, which established the Burnham Park reservation for park purposes.

The city government has been the administrator of Burnham Park since Feb. 10, 1995 pursuant to Executive Order 244 issued by then President Fidel Ramos. Prior to this, the park was under the Philippine Tourism Authority. The full control and further development of the same was finally transferred to the city government on Jan. 10, 2008 when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order 695.

Department of Tourism Legal Officer Brenden Quintos said Tieza, during a meeting last March 29, questioned the move of the city government to have Burnham Park titled in its name and that Tieza wants to retain ownership of Burnham Park. 

Dela Peña said the city government will have a dialogue with Tieza to iron out the issue on titling.

Councilor Mylen Yaranon earlier questioned the plan to title portions of Burnham Park in the name of the city government. She asked whether a presidential proclamation can be canceled by the issuance of a land title.

She said OCT 1 was also questioned during the term of her late father, then Mayor Braulio Yaranon.

General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan, whose office is tasked to process the titling, said OCT 1 which was issued in 1910 does not supersede Proclamation 64 since the former precedes the latter.

He added acquisition of a title does not cancel Proclamation 64 as the proclamation identifies the use of an area while a title indicates who owns it. – Jordan G. Habbiling