By NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES BAGUIO-BENGUET CHAPTER
We are informed that the Office of the President plans to renovate the once called Lualhati Guest House, the summer cottage once assigned to the press secretary across the Mansion, that has housed the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Cordillera Administrative Region since 2005.
Under the American colonial government, Baguio was made the national summer capital of the country where the national government then ran government from this city. Summer Cottages were built for national government heads where they had official residence while working from Baguio. So that there is a Cabinet Hill, Cottages for the Speaker of the House, Vice president, senate president, etc. After the American colonial practice of a summer capital gave way to the Philippine government, these cottages were maintained with government funds as summer cottages which the officials may or may not use.
In 2005, under President Fidel V. Ramos, with the re-organization of the national line agencies in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the demand for space for offices for the newly created agency branches or local offices grew. In the absence or lack of government buildings for the local government line agencies they had to rent private spaces. It was around this time that a decision to renovate and make use of the then Lualhati Cottage (Which was the cottage for the Minister of Information) to house the offices of the then being re-organized Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and also to save from expensive rent, and maximize the use of neglected or empty government buildings. It has since served as the PIA-CAR official residence.
It has since then been a center for journalists’, media practitioners’, trainings, seminars, meetings, caucuses, conferences and assemblies, or get togethers. The PIA-CAR office has served more than just an office accessible to its clientele in CAR but also to Northern and Central Luzon. It did not only serve the different administrations very well but also it has been the government liaison to the media, both local and national press and to the Local Government Units and even other line agencies.
In a letter, Deputy Secretary Rizalina N. Justol of the Office of the President informed PIA-CAR that the said guest house will be renovated and converted to the new cottage of the Executive Secretary. Justo added that the new cottage will also be used as venue for meetings, fora and other official function. Also that PIA-CAR has again to look for a new office and address to rent. We are of the thought that there are other buildings in the complex of the President’s Mansion that would better serve as the Executive Secretary’s cottage and venue for official meetings as the Mansion has been maintained and designed for.
We of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Baguio-Benguet, for all its historical significance and usefullness to the local journalism and propaganda profession, and to the public, plead with the Office of the President to retain the former Lualhati Cottage as the official residence and hub of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-CAR). We request that it be retained and maintained as center for our window to government and for the public as well. # nordis.net