March 2, 2024

The move to temporarily ban the conduct of trade fairs at Malcolm Square, or more popularly known as the “People’s Park”, which is one of the city’s major parks is a welcome development, given the fact the ordinance that regulates commercial activities in public spaces is often violated or circumvented anyway.
We commend the city council for observing prudence when it approved of a resolution that banned trade fairs and other commercial activities at Malcolm Square for December in the meantime the members are deliberating on the proposed ordinance aimed at crafting policies for the park.
While the council is deliberating on policies on the use and maintenance of Malcolm Square, the members might as well include other promenade areas in Baguio that have the same historical significance.
If the intention is to restore the original use of Malcolm Square as purely a recreation area where residents and visitors can sit idly by or relax, should this not also be applied in other parks?
We cannot fathom why Malcolm Square should only be the ones covered by a policy. If the reason is its historical significance, the other parks in Baguio also have a history. There should also be a policy that governs their use and maintenance.
The problem with choosing to re-gulate economic activities in one park alone is, it makes the other parks the alternative venues for commercial undertakings.
The best move for the council, instead of crafting another policy for Malcolm Square, is to stick to the Trade Fair Ordinance that regulates the holding of commercial events in parks and streets with the exception only of huge city-sponsored events such as the annual Baguio Flower Festival.
Instead of passing a separate ordinance for Malcolm Square, the supposed more unified city council should just amend the Trade Fair Ordinance and include provisions that are not present in the current one.
The amendment should already include provisions on the management and maintenance of other parks with historical and cultural significance.
There should also be clearer provisions on when to grant exemptions for city-sponsored events. The city is constantly holding events, which private groups are taking advantage of by organizing income-generating activities then tapping the city government as a partner, so they can be allowed to hold trade fairs.
In various instances, the Trade Fair Ordinance has been and continues to be circumvented. We cannot say that separate ordinances that provide guidelines on how other parks should be managed will not also be violated.
If there are no clearer guidelines on what city-sponsored events are exempted from the Trade Fair Ordinance, our parks, including our roads, will continue to be used for profit.
To truly regulate the use and maintenance of other parks, crafting separate ordinances is not the solution, but the amendment of the existing one and strictly complying with it.
This way, the city government can justly implement, and not violate its own policy, especially the maxim that “streets and parks are beyond the commerce of man.”