February 26, 2024

As proactive measure against the potential spread of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Mayor Benjamin Magalong canceled the Baguio Flower Festival opening parade, which was scheduled Feb. 1, as well as the international jazz event.
The mayor also announced the postponement of the Cordillera Administrative Regional Athletic Association Meet, which is set Feb. 16 to 21, to a later date.
The mayor also cancelled the closure of Session Road, which is scheduled for all Sundays of February and recalled his order cancelling classes on Feb. 1.
In a hastily called press conference Friday, Magalong said the decision was made in consultation with officials of the Department of Health, City Health Services Office, and stakeholders in the tourism industry.
“I don’t care about the losses that will be incurred in the postponement of these acti-vities. What we are after is the safety of our people,” Magalong said, but stressed that the cancellation was not prompted by an online petition seeking cancellation of the entire event and locking down of Baguio from the entry of tourists and visitors.
The mayor said Baguio will not be locked down and the lineup of events for the Panagbenga such as the month-long Baguio Blooms exposition at the Baguio Convention Center compound will proceed.
Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) chief of staff Evangeline Payno said the cancellation was not an easy decision to make but with public safety in mind, their group, along with other stakeholders agreed to forego of the opening parade.
“The decision was well-thought of. To our partners, we seek your understanding,” Payno said.
With regards the street dancing and floral float parades scheduled Feb. 29 and March 1, Magalong said he will await for the recommendation of the DOH and CHSO if it will be safe to proceed with the event by that time.
Both events are crowd-drawers of the Panagbenga.
Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio spokesperson Andrew Pinero said conventions, symposia, receptions, and other events in their member hotels will proceed as scheduled.
Pinero, who is also the head the Panagbenga media committee, said the BFFFI has contingency plans to address the concerns of performers and its partners. For the elementary students who have prepared for the elimination round of the streetdancing parade, he said they will perform Feb. 29 and March 1.
In the event that the BFFFI is not able to get clearance from the DOH, he said the group is willing to reschedule the Panagbenga on another month where the BFFFI will proceed with the traditional opening parade.
As of press time, the mayor’s office has not released an official pronouncement affirming the BFFFI’s announcement made 5 p.m. of Jan. 31 that it is only postponing the opening parade.
Meanwhile, in compliance with the directive of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Magalong created a coronavirus task force to help contain the spread of the disease.
Among the responsibilities of the task force is to ensure that local health authorities have necessary equipment and gadgets as protection against the disease and refer people suspected to have 2019-nCoV to a DOH-designated coronavirus-referral center. – Rimaliza A. Opiña