June 20, 2024

The Baguio City Council continues to approve trade fairs in city parks and public roads despite violation of conditions set by the body.

In the council’s April 29 session, councilors called out Permits and Licensing Division head Allan Abayao for allowing the trade fair at Juan Luna Drive to operate despite proof that the products being sold there is not the one they approved.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said the council approved the food fair by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio but non-food items were sold.

Tabanda said there also was an overlap in the schedule of Montañosa Festival and the food fair by HRAB. She said HRAB was permitted to operate from March 20 to April 20 but it operated until April 25.

Abayao reasoned, HRAB started March 25, as booths of the Montañosa Festival did not pull out on the date the group was supposed to take over.

He said HRAB pulled out non-food items when the PLD informed them of the violation.

In the case of Barangay Kagitingan, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan also called out Councilor Rocky Aliping for permitting the closure of a road in the barangay when based on the Local Government Code, closure of roads and parks requires city council endorsement to the Office of the Mayor for approval.

“You overstepped the function of the mayor. Next time, tell them to come to the city council because it involves the closure of roads,” Olowan told Aliping.

Aliping apologized but reiterated that tenants of the Kagitingan trade fair complied with the payment of special permits fees.

Tabanda and councilors Benny Bomogao and John Rhey Mananeng said the PLD is not fair in its treatment of those who violate their business permits. Tabanda said the PLD has been closing businesses that do not have a permit yet those in the trade fairs who also violated their permit were tolerated.

“Mahigpit kayo sa iba but in this case you did not close,” Tabanda told Abayao.

Abayao said the PLD took pity on the tenants who have already paid their lease. He said it is the organizers that should be penalized, not the tenants.

Tabanda advised Abayao to follow the action taken by the city council not the contract between the organizer and the tenant as he is not bound by their agreement.

Mananeng also observed that trade fairs appear to be operated by a few people only.

Despite these observations, the city council approved the trade fair at Barangay AZCKO as part of their activities for their barangay fiesta.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw said the city government should standby its advocacy of giving livelihood.

He added suspicions of a monopoly in trade fairs in the city should be backed by evidence, otherwise, it is presumed that these fairs are really organized to raise funds.

He said to avoid a repeat of the incidents cited by his colleagues, additional conditions will be set such as requiring the operator to submit a traffic plan duly approved by the Traffic and Transportation Management Division.

The council, meanwhile, reiterated a city council resolution requiring trade fair organizers to submit a report about their operation. – Rimaliza A. Opina