January 24, 2010 in Featured
By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY — Refusing to die even after it was dropped like a hot potato by city officials fearing political backlash in 2010 by an irked electorate, the controversial 25-year lease of 7-hectare Baguio Athletic Bowl at the Burnham Park remains the talk of the town.
It is said “Parks are beyond the commerce of man” but Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. believes that Baguio owns the athletic bowl in papers, two former mayors said that it has no right to lease it out to private entities.
“Parang ganun na nga,” Bautista said when asked if the ownership was with city and not the Philippine Tourism Authority or its mother agency, the Department of Tourism.
The city’s ‘ownership’ over the park lead him to sign a memorandum of agreement with a Korean group late last year which was later confirmed by the city council
Earlier, Congressman Domogan and former Mayor worked for the transfer of management of the 26-hectare park from the national government to the city.
“It has been a mistake, we do not have ownership over the park, to be able to lease it out for 25 years to a group,” he said during a recent interview.
In February 1995, then president Fidel Ramos signed executive order 224 transferring the management , administration and maintenance of the park to the city.
This, however, was fully effected in January 2008 when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed EO 695 “fully devolving” the park to the city.
However, the Arroyo EO said the “City Government of Baguio shall not encumber, mortgage or alienate any portion of the Burnham Park unless approved by the Secretary of Tourism.”
Domogan and Vergara said that the 25 year lease to the Korean group is considered as an act of ownership.
This reflects the view of councilor Perlita Chan Rondez who during a privilege speech on January 11 castigating both mayor and the city council for approving the lease of the seven hectare Baguio athletic bowl to An Ho Yul and a group of Korean investors.
“Long term lease of 25 years is considered an act of ownership and not merely an act of administration,” said the councilor, who also gave her colleagues, some her law school professors a lesson on contracts during her speech.
She added: “City is not allowed to alienate as manager and administrator only. Lease violated EO 695.”
Rondez speech, came after seven of her colleagues pushed for the recall of Resolution 515, series of 2009 authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with An’s group for the lease of the park for 25 years. The council, unanimously approved the recall. #nordis.net