THE Baguio City Council has agreed to ensure that no changes will be made to any lease contracts for Burnham Park lessors or month-to-month extensions until the city finalizes its Burnham Park development plan.

Under Resolution No. 557, series of 2021, the council enacts a state of status quo ante on all lease contracts or month-to-month extensions for Burnham Park lessees indefinitely, until the development plan is completed. This means that contracts will remain as they are to prevent the lessees from struggling with undue additional financial concerns prior to the redevelopment of the park.

Burnham Park lessees previously raised issues ranging from the application of their rental rates to those at Session Road and the city public market, tenure of lease of contracts, bidding requirements from current lessees and payment of taxes, deduction of rentals, and cancellation of all penalties and interests and condonation of rentals, citing the present pandemic, and pending the implementation of the proposed Burnham Park development plan, and the move by some sectors for Burnham Park to be declared as a national heritage site.

As such, the city council has also requested the city’s Local Finance Committee to study in-depth the issues to come up with potential solutions while enacting the status quo to keep the lessees afloat.

Citing Section 16 of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code as amended, which provides that local government units, within their respective territorial jurisdictions, shall ensure and support, among other things, the enhancement of economic prosperity and social justice, promotion of full employment among their residents, and the preservation of the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants, the council has assured that they will act on the concerns of the Burnham Park lessees.

The city initially planned to develop portions of Burnham Park with funding from the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), but funding in 2020 was taken back by the national government to be used as part of the government’s response against COVID-2019.

With the lack of funding, the city has put the project on hold, and plans for the development are yet to be finished.