Fight to re­tain PIA lost

Sun.Star Baguio - - FRONT PAGE - Maria Elena Cata­jan Sun*Star Re­porter

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.

Photo by Milo Brioso

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.

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