Issue of August 11, 2019
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Baguio to recover Athletic Bowl sites
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Portions of the Athletic Bowl complex which are currently occupied by concessionaires will soon be recovered by the city government as part of the development program for the area.

On Aug. 7, City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña met with representatives of Angelita’s Canteen, Baguio Tennis Club, R&R Sanitary Services, and the 14th Regional Community Defense Group to inform them about the city government’s plans for the area, as well as to listen to their answers regarding the report of the City Sports Division regarding violation of guidelines on the use of space at the Athletic Bowl complex.

The city government is reviewing all agreements related to the operation of concessions at Burnham Park. 

In a report dated July 4, Sports Development Officer IV Gaudencio Gonzales said the 14th Regional Community Defense Group has extended its barracks without approval of the City Buildings and Architecture Office; the reserve command’s personnel smoke, drink, and park illegally despite provision in their agreement with then City Schools Division Supt. Allyson Belagan that only government vehicles could park in the slots allotted for them; and they have turned their area into a military camp.

The report recommended for the rescission of the agreement with the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) to give way for the construction of a training facility and competition venue for combative and indoor sports using the supplemental budget intended for the development of the Athletic Bowl Complex.

The report recommended transfer of the Army Reserve to its camp at Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet or at Camp John Hay.

The Army Reserve started occupying a portion of the complex in October 1993. The area was reserved for the DECS for sports programs for students. From the Reserve’s quarters at Teachers’ Camp, it was relocated at the Athletic Bowl as the Teachers’ Camp then was being used by the DECS. At that time, the national government was still rebuilding Baguio from the devastation of the 1990 earthquake.

In the case of the Baguio Tennis Club, gambling, videoke, smoking, drinking, illegal parking; illegal operation of a store; selling of liquor and cigarette; and giving priority to BTC members in the use of the courts instead of Baguio athletes were among the violations reported.

The report recommended for the LGU to take over the area so it will become part of proposed training facility. After construction, the city council will amend the resolution allowing the BTC to manage the tennis courts, pass an ordinance containing the prescribed regulatory fees and guidelines on its use. Management shall also be transferred to the City Sports Division, instead of a private entity.

The BTC started operating the tennis courts in 1976 by virtue of Resolution 106-1976. The resolution states that the group may manage and operate the area for two years with the condition that income earned from membership fees and use of area shall be paid to the City Treasurer’s Office, not the BTC. Income should be deposited in a government trust account where the fund shall be used exclusively for operating expenses of the court. The BTC was also required to periodically submit to the City Treasurer’s Office audited financial reports.

Resolution 106-1976 was amended in 1980. Except for the two more years extension granted to BTC, and the new rates, the guidelines contained in the 1976 resolution was essentially incorporated in the 1980 resolution. From 1980 up to the present, there are no records from the city government that will show if there were any new agreements between the LGU and the BTC, dela Peña said during the meeting.

Aside from the report of the City Sports Division, the Commission on Audit, in its 2018 report, called out the city government of Baguio on the operation of the tennis courts.

The COA said in the absence of a memorandum of agreement with the city government and the BTC, the latter should not manage the tennis courts. State auditors said by allowing another entity to collect, the LGU was not able to realize an income of P663,000.  The city has yet to clarify if the COA’s computation covers 2018 alone, or reckoned from 1976.

For R&R Sanitary Services, the July 4 report stated that the company has fenced an area exclusive for its delivery trucks. They have also been occupying parking areas not allotted for them, and its trucks at said areas.

City athletes are also being made to pay when using their toilets.

The report recommended for the city government to construct a city-managed toilet, which city athletes may use for free. The report also suggested for R&R to turn over the toilets it is presently managing to the General Services Office.

Of the party’s invited, only Angelita’s Canteen was found to be following the terms on the use of space allotted to them.

Dela Peña said he will report to the mayor what transpired during the meeting, including the verbal agreements the Army Reserve had with former mayor Mauricio Domogan. In the meantime, he directed the BTC and the Army Reserve to address the issues raised in Gonzales’s report.

Col. Gregory Docil of the Army Reserve Command admitted that they occasionally drink and have videoke at the area. He also said they had to expand their area for quarters of the soldiers and dressing room for baseball players.

He said while they are aware that the city government will soon take over the area, they asked that they be allowed to continue staying at the area because they conduct trainings for ROTC students of University of Baguio and University of the Cordilleras. His group would also be useful during disaster response and as additional security at Burnham Park.

Docil said Domogan promised to allot a space for them when the city builds a sports building at the area encompassing the tennis court, Army Reserve post, and Angelita’s Canteen. 
The city administrator said the verbal assurance of the former mayor will be reviewed.”

The Army Reserve official was also told to remove the sign at its entrance that states, “This is a military camp.”

This is after lawyer Isagani Liporada of the City Legal Office reminded that the Athletic Bowl is an area reserved for sports activities and should not bear any signs that would give the impression that it is under military control.

Officers of the BTC also committed to secure a business permit and prevent their visitors from smoking or from bringing in liquor.

Dela Peña also ordered the BTC to submit an audited financial statement.

The concessionaires were also reminded that their use of parking spaces is not free.

Sports Development Officer II Paul Rillorta said only accredited city athletes or their coaches have designated free parking areas, while all other users of Athletic Bowl should pay.

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