BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan questioned the unilateral declaration made by the National Heritage Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Burnham Park as one of the city’s historic landmarker, saying that the government entity empowered to do so grossly violated the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10066 or the new law governing the declaration of heritage sites and historic landmarkers in the different parts of the archipelago.
The local chief executive cited the city government does not oppose the declaration of various sites in the city as heritage sites or historic landmarks, provided, it follows the proper procedures outlined in Section 8 of the said law governing the declaration of heritage sites and landmarks in the country.
Under the provisions of RA 10066, the declaration of heritage sites and historic landmarks must be contained in a petition to be submitted to the NHCP for the latter to schedule the conduct of public consultations relative to such proposals with the affected sectors.
Domogan pointed out NHCP’s unilateral declaration of Burnham Park as a historic landmark was not embodied in a council resolution coupled with the fact that the city government was never consulted about the matter.
“We are in favour of the declaration of Burnham Park as a historic landmark but the procedures under the new law must be strictly followed or else such declaration will be prone to questions,” Domogan stressed.
According to him, he plans to write a letter to NHCP pointing out the appropriate procedures outlined under the law for the declaration of a heritage site in order for the government entity to reconsider its position and observe the steps before coming out with a declaration that may not be exposed to further criticisms, especially by the owners of the sites.
Domogan argued the declaration of Burnham Park as a historic landmark came as a surprise to city officials considering that they have no knowledge on what group initiated the move which is also not in conformity with the new law that provides that it is the owner of the property, meaning that the city government, that would file the petition for declaration of the park to be declared as a heritage site.
Burnham Park is a 34-hectare park situated in the central business district area which houses the famous Melvin Jones football ground and grandstand, the Rose Garden, the 2-hectare man-made lake, the children’s park, the Ibaloi park, the orchidarium, the picnic groove, the skating rink and the Baguio Athletic Bowl.
Domogan said the city government will assert to the NHCP that it must strictly adhere to the prescribed rules and regulations in the declaration of heritage sites and historic landmarks in order to prevent further issues and questions to be raised against it in the future once it failed to comply with such rules.
He claimed the best thing to do is for concerned sectors, the city government and the NHCP must closely work together in identifying the areas that are supposed to be declared as heritage sites instead of a single group advocating for it and then criticizing the local government for its failure to support their cause, saying that there is nothing wrong in declaring a certain area as a heritage site provided it passes through the prescribed lawful procedures as enshrined in the new law.