June 21, 2024

What was supposed to be an innocent post on social media has ignited a spat between two Baguio officials, who reminded each other to observe propriety and tackle issues affecting the city in the proper forum.

After the backlash she received over a Facebook post, Councilor Mylen Yaranon used her time at the city council to express her sentiments about how Mayor Benjamin Magalong and his supporters reacted to her social media post.

In her privilege speech on July 18, Yaranon denied Magalong’s claim that she twisted facts about the planned development of the lot where the former Bibak dormitory stands along Harrison Road.

In her Facebook account, Yaranon shared a photo of former vice president Leni Robredo signing an agreement for the establishment of a dormitory for indigent students in Quezon and wrote a caption that stated, in part: “Dormitory for indigent school children. We used to have Bibak too, in Baguio, but it has been demolished to pave way for some commercial and modernized parking for those who can afford cars, a joint project of the DENR and the city government under the current administration.”

The same post was the subject of Magalong’s speech during the July 4 flag-raising ceremony and an open letter posted in the mayor’s personal Facebook account, which belied Yaranon’s claim about demolition of a dormitory and explained the memorandum of agreement about the planned development of the area between the city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is yet to be finalized.

The post read, in part: “The present administration is as adamant against misinformation and disinformation as it is against graft and corruption. Councilor Yaranon should show more prudence and propriety in her statements. Public servants being influencers and with substantial social media reach should not twist the truth and facts that may cause divisiveness just for clout.”

In her speech, Yaranon said the allegation that she twisted facts and was politicking is baseless and false.

She however acknowledged the demolition done at the Bibak property in 2017 was that of the illegal structures, which were done voluntarily by individuals who put up their buildings in the area.

She said her Facebook post was an expression of her desire for the city government to consider providing a dormitory for students, which she said is more important than providing a structure to cater to cars and tourists.

DENR-Cordillera Executive Director Ralph Pablo earlier told the city council that in the MOA signed for the development of portions of Original Certificate Title 1, which covers Gov. Pack Road and the Bibak lot, the latter was not included because it is the subject of a congressional inquiry.

He added the MOA signed between Magalong and former DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu will have to be submitted anew in view of the change in the DENR leadership.

The city government is eyeing to develop the Bibak lot to a multi-use building for commercial offices, an urban agriculture hub, and parking spaces.

Yaranon also took exception to the allegation she was politicizing the issue.

She said she shared Robredo’s post about the intention to put up a dormitory for indigent students because it is similar to the intention of the Bibak dormitory.

In her closing, Yaranon said she supports the administration in promoting good governance beyond politics – a government that listens, sets personal issues aside, and consults people when a project is proposed.

She also reminded public officials to adhere to the norms of conduct for public officials.

“As public officials, we should maintain statesmanship and professionalism in all our actions towards our colleagues and even to the lowest rank and file, especially when we are in official functions such as the flag raising ceremony,” she said. – Jane B. Cadalig