City willing to purchase GSIS tree park

BAGUIO CITY May 17 – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan wants the State-owned Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to negotiate with the local government for the purchase of the over 3.3-hectare area around the city-owned Baguio Convention Center for the maintenance of the tree park and the possible sale of the squatted portion of the property to the informal settlers.

The local chief executive claimed that he recently received a letter from the GSIS management informing the local government that the State insurance corporation is willing to sell the whole area in the amount of P682 million.

When the local government signified its intention to purchase the property, the GISI stated last November that the total cost of the land was P436.

However, the local government submitted a counter offer to the GSIS after receiving the November 2017 letter stating that it is willing to purchase the property at a price of P350 million.

"We want to purchase the property so we can maintain the 1.6-hectare tree park as it is as a buffer zone for our city, especially right within the central business district area while the remaining squatted portion of the area will have to pass through the needed legal process to either evict the informal settlers or negotiate with them so that they will instead purchase the property that they are currently occupying to avoid further encroachments in the area," Domogan stressed.

Additionally, the local government is also eyeing the purchase of the GSIS property in the Marcoville area for development purposes, especially as a parking area to address the lack of adequate parking spaces in the city.

He said that the local government is interested in purchasing the two GSIS properties which it could use to address part of the city's major problems and to maintain a tree park within the heart of the city towards reducing the pollutants in the city's air for improved air quality.

Earlier the local government acquired the Baguio Convention Center and the parking area from the GSIS through a tripartite memorandum of agreement entered into between the State insurance corporation, the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the city sometime in 2004 but was only perfected sometime in 2012.

Domogan remains optimistic the GSIS will agree to the offer of the local government for their technical personnel to go back to the drawing board and negotiate the purchase price of the 3.3-hectare government property.

The city-owned convention facility is now undergoing rehabilitation through funds allocated by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to improve existing amenities and accommodate bigger crowds.

The convention center rehabilitation was programmed to be completed within a one-year period and future funding requirements will be charged to the budget of the implementing agency.

By Dexter A. See

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