Council dodges Trade Fair Ordinance
With 10 members voting in favor, the city council has approved another trade fair to be conducted at Juan Luna Drive, Burnham Park.
The trade fair, the fifth permitted by the city council since 2022, got the majority vote amidst public criticism about the council violating the same ordinance they passed and despite some members pointing out the activity is not one of the events exempt from the coverage of the Trade Fair Ordinance.
The move also sets a precedent for other entities to ask permission from the city government in the guise of the activity being a “co-sponsored” event by the city government, the five councilors who voted against added.
City Environment Parks and Management Officer Rhenan Diwas has informed the city council on its special session on May 2 his endorsement of the request to operate a trade fair already has a precedent when several years ago, the City Social Welfare and Development Office was permitted to raise funds for indigents. The Panagbenga and other similar activities are also precedent cases, he added.
In the case of the trade fair that will be operated by Mabeline Events Management Services, the same group that won the bid to operate the Baguio Blooms last February, Diwas said the deal is for the company to repair the fountains at the Rose Garden, which for the past five years has not been functioning, and to donate 10,000 pots of roses.
He said the fountains constantly breaks down and has not been able to operate for more than six months after repair.
He, however, admitted he is unsure if the trade fair operator will be able to produce an estimate of P5 million for the repair and purchase of roses and the operator’s arrangement with tenants, but said that this is the risk the operator was willing to take.
He added he has the best intention in endorsing the trade fair as funds allotted from the Burnham Park trust fund for maintenance expenses is not enough.
He further justified his endorsement saying that leaving the fountains in a constant state of disrepair is a symbol of inefficiency of the government so he opted to favorably endorse the proposal.
“If it will become a precedent, then so be it, as long as there are conditions. If we totally prohibit (trade fairs in public parks), we are not helping much,” Diwas said and stressed that in his stint as head of the Cepmo, a lot of micro enterprises are interested to participate in trade fairs but are precluded from joining because of the limitations set in the Trade Fair Ordinance.
Diwas also expressed misgivings about the constitutionality of the Trade Fair Ordinance, but which Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda rebuffed saying in the absence of court ruling declaring the ordinance as unconstitutional, the same is presumed valid.
Tabanda said as a lawyer, Diwas is supposed to uphold the law and any re-servations about the ordinance are his personal opinion.
She said the pro-per procedure is to file a case in court for a review of the ordinance or for Diwas to submit to the city council his suggested amendments to the Trade Fair Ordinance.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon added Diwas’ means to augment funds for the maintenance of Burnham Park does not justify the circumvention of the Trade Fair Ordinance, while Councilor Peter Fianza said an ex-deal is not one of the alternative methods of procurement spelled out in the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Councilors Benny Bomogao and Michael Lawana said the better remedy is to submit a proposal to the city council and the body will allot funds for the repair, not the Cepmo acting as an enterprise by tapping a businessman to operate a trade fair on its behalf.
Despite these facts presented during the deliberation, counci-lors Leandro Yangot, Jr.; Elmer Datuin; Fred Bagbagen; Maximo Edwin, Jr.; Levy Lloyd Orcales; Arthur Allad-iw; Jose Molintas; Isabelo Cosalan, Jr.; Vladimir Cayabas; and Lilia Fariñas voted in favor of the trade fair, while councilors Tabanda, Yaranon, Fianza, Lawana, and Bomogao voted against.
The trade fair was permitted to operate for 15 days beginning after the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the mayor and Maribel Chagwaten, proprietor of Mabeline Events Management Services.
Other conditions required from the Cepmo are: submit the exact cost of the repair of the fountains; Burnham Park trust fund expenditure report for the past five years; comments to the proposed amendment to the Trade Fair Ordinance; follow-up from the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation its assistance to bike concessionaires; submission of the MOA to the city council, and for the operator to submit a financial report to the city council after the activity. – Rimaliza A. Opiña