Bonfires and cold hearts
When the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera was first formed, it moved its office a lot of times, mostly in front of Baguio City Hall.
When it moved to the area between Mansion House and the reflecting pool, even the local media thought it finally found its real home.
It has a huge knoll surrounded by towering pine trees. The wooden building was quiet and conducive to kapihans.
Even the presidents thought it was a good home for the PIA and the local media. They gave funds for the dap-ay and the Ifugao huts.
The dap-ay became a favorite spot. The presidents held their Christmas parties here with the media. Agreements and celebrations of national and local NGOs and groups held their photo-ops here. Even local media held their weddings here.
For almost a generation, this was the home of the PIA. Even national and local media slept here during presidential coverage.
Then in the Deputy Executive Secretary’s letter last May 22 to PIA central office, it turned out that during the second visit of President Duterte and his entourage last March, the Office of the President team supposedly conducted an ocular inspection and said that the guest house is “already weak and dilapidated, and it needs major renovation/improvement and refurbishment.”
Never mind that the PIA-Cordillera just got its ISO certification which requires a sound structure.
But needless to say the Deputy ES letter’s point was in the following paragraph: “Thus, we are planning to renovate the said guest house and consequently, to convert it to and be used as the new cottage of the Executive Secretary for easy access to the Baguio Mansion House.”
They want the PIA-Cordillera to immediately vacate the place.
Upon referral to the ES, we learned that the PIA should not worry because they will be using the OP funds for the guest house. This is akin to saying, we will use the people’s taxes for this.
Even the main purpose as easy access to the Mansion House was refuted immediately after the inspection because President Duterte himself decided not to stay at the Mansion House and has not returned since.
The previous Executive Secretaries had found no need for a guest house and opted to stay at the Mansion House. At the rate the president had stayed here, that would mean the ES guest house would only be used twice or once a year. Unless there are other reasons which we, of course, would be obliged to know.
Meanwhile, the PIA Cordillera would be finding a new home and it will find one. As for the ES and his people, they will find cold hearts welcoming them from the local media. Baguio Media Group