Trees to give way to Cabinet home in Baguio | Inquirer News

Trees to give way to Cabinet home in Baguio

DENR seeks mayor’s clearance in processing of tree-cutting permit
/ 05:20 AM December 06, 2017

Balcony photo shows the familiar “dap-ay” (traditional meeting place in the Cordillera) and Ifugao hut at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) grounds in Baguio City. (Above) Some of these trees at the PIA compound in Baguio’s Wright Park will be cut as the government builds a cottage for the executive secretary. —PHOTOS BY EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY — The Office of the President has asked the city government to allow 32 Caliandra trees to be cut to build a house for the Office of the Executive Secretary across the presidential Mansion here.


The proposed summer house will rise on Mansion land, which is near the forested Wright Park.

Environmentalists have been sensitive about development projects that require cutting of trees. They have protested the destruction of trees in a proposed mall and several condominium projects here.


But the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the trees marked for cutting were those planted by employees of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and were not part of the original forest cover at Wright Park.

Cordillera House

The PIA has been holding office at the cottage that once housed former rebel priest, Conrado Balweg, and his militia after he and then President Corazon Aquino agreed to a ceasefire in 1987.

Aquino formed the Cordillera Administrative Region following peace talks with Balweg.

The building was renamed the Cordillera House and was recently proposed as a possible heritage site after Deputy Executive Secretary Rizalina Justol ordered its rehabilitation and conversion into the summer house of the executive secretary.

Like the Mansion, which serves as summer residence of Philippine presidents, almost all Cabinet secretaries have official houses built since the American colonial government transferred operations here in the early 1990s.

Many of these summer residences are clustered in what is now Cabinet Hill. But no Cabinet cottage has been reserved for an executive secretary.


Some Cordillera leaders have appealed for the preservation of the Cordillera House. But it does not fulfill the requirements for a heritage building which must be at least 50 years old, said Councilor Peter Fianza, a former city administrator.


He said the city government could petition for a marker to be installed at the area, indicating that the Cordillera House used to stand there.

The tree-cutting application was filed by Carlota Pauly, director of the Mansion, on behalf of the Office of the President, according to a DENR endorsement dated Nov. 14. The 32 trees to be cut are located on the right side of the PIA cottage.

The Office of the President said it would replace these trees with Benguet pine trees, according to the letter from Rainier Balbuena, city environment and natural resources officer (Cenro).

The Cenro asked Mayor Mauricio Domogan to issue the clearance required before the DENR could issue a tree-cutting permit. —Kimberlie Quitasol

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TAGS: DENR, Mansion land, Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President, tree-cutting clearance
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