by Rimaliza A. Opiña
Issues of unconfirmed contracts notwithstanding, the current tenants at the Baguio Convention Center are willing to extend their lease at the area.
As the city council is now in the process of reviewing the contracts, following the observations of the Commission on Audit last year, the tenants said they are willing to continue their lease with the city. Except for Smart telco, the Rosario and La Union van operators and drivers association and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue to pay their lease despite the fact that their contracts have yet to be confirmed by the city council.
Smart has withheld paying its dues since June, but they commit that they would pay the lease including back payments when the city government is able to iron out issues on lease contracts.
The council, meanwhile, is fast-tracking confirmation of the contracts so as to legitimize the lease of the tenants.
The council’s action is a response to a COA memorandum last year that said the lease contracts upon signing by contracting parties has to be submitted to the council within 30 days for confirmation.
Insinuations also surfaced that the tenants have been paying to unauthorized personnel, and income from the lease has not been remitted to the city’s coffers.
The tenants denied these accounts, saying all their transactions are covered by official receipts issued by the City Treasurer’s Office.
In June last year, the City Tourism Office, caretaker of the BCC, clarified the findings of the COA.
In his letter to the city council addressed to Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, City Tourism Officer Benedicto Alhambra said there were circumstances beyond his control that led the COA to conclude violations on the management of the BCC.
On the parking slots exceeding the agreed number of spaces for parking, Alhambra said Tayug, Pangasinan and Rosario, La Union-bound PUVs were allotted eight spaces. He said the observation that these vehicles exceeded parking slots is due to drivers meeting at the area to converge. He said these vehicles do not park more than 30 minutes making it “impossible” to monitor.
On the free parking of private vehicles at the BCC compound, Alhambra said government offices leasing at the BCC extend service to the public, including providing a parking space for clients. He said responsibility of classifying vehicles whether they are parking or are momentarily transacting with some government offices is not within the manpower of the BCC management. He also said the BCC management is not authorized to collect any amount from any party or individual. Alhambra said payments are based on Ordinance 95-1995 and are payable to the City Treasurer’s Office.
On the issue of a telecommunications company operating without a MOA Alhambra said technicalities in the draft MOA as pointed out by the lessor have been referred to the City Legal Office and the City Budget Office but at some point said documents stayed in one office for months without definite headway, causing further delay.