June 23, 2024

The Baguio City council has deferred its approval on second reading after publication of the proposed ordinance amending the Trade Fair Ordinance of 1994 to consider more suggestions and recommendations.
The council will also study if a public consultation on the proposal is necessary following concerns on the revisions on some of the provisions of the existing ordinance and to assure it will not violate existing laws.
The proposed amendments, authored by Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr., take into consideration the adverse economic situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that compelled micro, small, and medium enterprises to promote their products to the public through trade fairs.
It aims to spur such activities in the city to help alleviate the plight of the MSMEs by amending the Trade Fair Ordinance, which was last amended 11 years ago.
Among other provisions, Cosalan seeks to amend Section 2 of the existing ordinance as to allow trade fairs “that promote agricultural, industrial, indigenous, and commercial products, crafts, and other merchandise through inter-regional trading that will foster better livelihood opportunities, enhance local tourism, and help advance economic development for a period not exceeding 15 days in suitable private places and city-owned or managed public parks, including government-owned and controlled properties, roads, and facilities.”
In its session March 13, Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr., who was part of the council that passed the original ordinance in 1995, said there is a need to review and amend it since the situation has changed and there is a need to attune to the call of the times.
However, Councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda and Mylen Yaranon reminded while it is for livelihood activities, as per existing laws parks and roads are beyond the commerce of man.
“The Civil Code specifically provides that public properties, roads, and facilities are beyond the commerce of man. If we will allow trade fairs in these areas, we will be definitely violating the law. It is violative of the law. Categorically we always say parks and roads are beyond the commerce of man and second, we are a character city, so we have to abide by the law. I don’t think we can come up with an ordinance, which is contrary to law itself,” Tabanda said.
Yaranon asked: “We have been allowing such activities. Whatever happened to the parks are beyond the commerce of man?”
Cosalan explained the proposed revisions aims to provide clarifications and will be based on existing laws.
“We came out with this proposal because truly we are confused. We have allowed trade fairs such as the Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter. So what is really allowed and not? Why do we allow these activities if indeed by the spirit of the law parks are beyond the commerce of man? So we would like to clarify,” Cosalan said.
Councilor Benny Bomogao said there should be a clear definition of what a trade fair and an exhibition is.
He also seeks to exempt Burnham Park for use for trade fairs, and should only be allowed through a special ordinance allowing such activities in the area.
Bomogao and Yangot offered to submit recommendations to the city council’s committee on market, trade and commerce, which is chaired by Cosalan.
Bomogao also thought the proposal allowing trade fairs, if approved, should be handled by a committee or other concerned city departments instead of the city council to prevent interested parties from approaching councilors asking to be allowed to conduct trade fairs.
Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said pending action on the proposed amendments, the existing ordinance shall be in effect, as he acknowledged while the general consensus that parks are beyond the commerce of man, the city council had passed ordinances and resolutions allowing trade fairs in parks and roads.
Bomogao said it is time to reflect on the Trade Fair Ordinance and the pending proposed amendments, stressing the existing ordinance should be implemented and strictly followed. – Hanna C. Lacsamana