BAGUIO CITY – The local government is inclined to purchase from the State-owned Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) the over 3.3-hectare tree park area near the city-owned Baguio Convention Center and its environs to serve as a buffer zone that will guarantee the availability of a remaining pine stand right at the heart of the city.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan revealed that it is unfortunate that the GSIS denied the proposal of the local government to purchase its vacant property in barangay Marcoville or just a few hundred meters away from the city’s premier convention facility because the State insurance corporation intends to partner with a developer for the possible put up of a facility in the area.
Initially, the local government proposed to GSIS that it is already willing to purchase its vacant Marcoville property to the tune of some P434 million as per the prevailing fair market value of the property to be used for the put up of a multi-level parking facility and other amenities to address the city’s inadequate parking spaces.
“We respect the decision of GSIS management not to sell its Marcoville property but we will make another attempt to offer the purchase of the tree park area near the Baguio Convention Center and its environs so that we will be able to address the alleged discrepancies in the GSIS titles that included the convention center,” Domogan added.
He claimed that by owning the tree park area and other areas around the convention center through the planned purchase, it will be the local government who will be dealing with the informal settlers in some portions of the property so that the squatting problem in the area could be laid to rest.
According to him, the existence of the tree park in the area will definitely provide a buffer zone so that the trees will help in balancing the pollutants in the city’s air, especially the bad smoke emitted by thousands of motor vehicles passing through the place everyday.
Domogan expressed optimism that GSIS will grant the local government’s request for the purchase of the tree park and its adjacent areas so that it will be in charge of enhancing the presence of trees in the area for the benefit of the present and future generations of residents wanting to live in the highest city in the country.
It can be recalled that the local government was able to purchase from the GSIS the Baguio Convention Center and a 1-hectare portion covering its parking areas through a tripartite agreement that commenced sometime in February 2004 but was only consummated in late 2012.
Initially, the local government used its share from the lease rentals of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) that was lodged with the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) as downpayment for the purchase in 2004.
However, the local government was constrained to use local fund sources to complete its obligation with the GSIS after the developer stopped paying the annual lease rentals of the JHSEZ when its amortization started to increase and be penalized for a certain number of years due to the non-remittance of BCDA to the supposed payment.
By Dexter A. See
Banner Photo by: ARMANDO BOLISLIS