Fight to retain PIA lost
IN A show of unity Thursday morning, a somber group of media practitioners converged for the last time at Lualhati Drive to bid farewell to the space which became part of local journalist’s everyday life.
The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) held a thanksgiving with traditional prayers offered by a mambunong at the Dap-ay with employees and media falling silent, offering their personal farewells to an area which had become more than an office.
The PIA Cordillera house will leave behind the Dap-ay, a sacred gathering place which has become a favorite venue for meetings for both government and non-government agencies, gatherings for media and place to settle many disputes.
Last year, Malacanang ordered PIA to vacate the historic Cordillera house at Lualhati Barangay with the area to be converted to become a cottage for secretaries of the Palace to have easy access to the Mansion House to hold meetings, which began the losing battle of the media to retain the space for the PIA.
The local media bemoaned the hurried ejectment which occu-
pied the house where Fr. Conrado Balweg stayed, after the signing of peace accord that paved way for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Letters and even an online petition was made as a last ditch effort to the save the space as well as the 32 Calindra trees to be cut by order of a presidential Secretary “to eliminate newly planted trees to give way to the construction of executive secretary cottage across the Mansion House. Oppose building of Executive Secretary Cottage that will entail cutting anew of trees.”
Even the local council, pitched their support for the PIA’s continued stay at Lualhati Barangay led by councilor Arthur Allad iw through a resolution in support of media group’s appeal.
Allad-iw said the PIA CAR’s Cordillera house, including the Dap-ay, is not only a heritage area, but most importantly, a historical landmark where they utilized for activities in the advancement of press freedom and their primary role of bringing information to the residents of the city, the region and the nation.
It was in 2005, under President Fidel V. Ramos, with the re-organization of the national line agencies in the Cordillera when a decision to renovate and make use of the then Lualhati Cottage (Which was the cottage for the Minister of Information) to house the offices of the then being re-organized Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and also to save from expensive rent, and maximize the use of neglected or empty government buildings.
It has since served as the PIA-CAR official residence which also signaled journalists to use the space for trainings, seminars, meetings, caucuses, conferences and assemblies, or gettogether’s and even weddings.
FAREWELL. Mambunong Ernesto Donato and information officer Joseph Zambrano offer their last prayer at the Ifugao hut as they bid goodbye to the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera office in Lualhati barangay.