The Summer Capital of the Philippines is next in line for government rehabilitation, as confirmed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The national and city governments are planning to revive the City of Pines by relocating some of its structures—mostly private homes—that are built on its slopes. According to Puyat, they are bidding to turn the favorite destination into a "smart city" through new developments that are being planned to be built in the city’s outskirts and its neighboring municipalities.
City government mayor Benjamin Magalon has already ordered the prohibition of the cutting of trees in the area. He has also issued the halting of the construction of new office buildings and homes in the city, Puyat said.
Puyat shared that more detailed discussions are set to start in January among the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Baguio Government, and other agencies who will be involved in the rehabilitation.
"We have given him (Mayor Magalong) P400 million to rehabilitate Burnham Park," Puyat said during an interview at "The Chiefs" on Cignal TV’s One News, as reported by the Philippine Star. The fund will be used to improve light installations in the city, develop its pedestrian areas, and improve its sanitation. She also shared that the mayor has given her assurance that the city will not be turned into a parking lot—a plan that has been envisioned by the previous city administration.
The DOT and its infrastructure arm Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will also be issuing an initial P500 million to the city, P400 million of which will be used for Burnham Park.
Puyat mentioned that the planned development of new properties outside of the city will be used to relocate people living on the slopes. These hilly areas have been identified as danger zones by seismologists who have pointed out that overcrowding in the area can lead to a big loss of lives in the event of a strong earthquake. Luzon was hit by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake in 1990 that has left more than 1,600 people dead, mostly in Nueva Ecija and Baguio.
Last year, Baguio became the first city to be recognized in the Creative Cities Network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Puyat mentioned that the rehabilitation will also aim to follow-through on this by reviving the city’s landmarks and giving the spotlight to the culture and artistry of the Cordilleras.
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