FORMER Bacolod City mayor Monico Puentevella questioned House Bill 5875, which seeks to declare June 18 of every year a special non-working public holiday known as “Bacolod City Charter Day.” The measure was approved on second reading last week.
Puentevella, in a press conference Monday, February 12, said the move to change the city’s Charter Day from October 19 to June 18 is a betrayal of public trust.
“It is treacherous because the people of Bacolod do not know that they are trying to insist that June 18 is the city’s Charter Day in spite of the fact that the National Historical Commission reiterated its position that October 19 is the Charter or Foundation Day of Bacolod,” he said.
The bill was filed by Representative Greg Gasataya on June 13, 2017 upon Mayor Evelio Leonardia’s request.
Gasataya earlier said the bill is set to be endorsed for third reading shortly.
The proposed legislation amends Republic Act (RA) 7724 that supposedly set a wrong date for the celebration of the Charter Day of Bacolod.
Leonardia said President Manuel L. Quezon signed Commonwealth Act 326 creating Bacolod as a city on June 18.
He said that RA 7724 created the legally unfounded belief that the Charter Day is on October 19.
The mayor pointed out that they gathered a background that October 19 was the inauguration of then mayor Alfredo Montelibano Sr.
Moreover, Puentevella said that even Malacañang under then former Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Michael Aguinaldo had denied the request of the City Council in 2012 for a presidential issuance declaring June 18, 2012 as a special non-working holiday for the celebration of the signing of the Charter of Bacolod City.
In his letter to the City Council dated June 14, 2012, Aguinaldo said though the Charter creating Bacolod City or Commonwealth Act 326 was signed on June 18, 1938, it should be noted that RA 7724 clearly states that the celebration for the Charter Anniversary of Bacolod City must be every October 19.
“RA 7724 is unambiguous. The celebration of the cityhood of Bacolod City should be celebrated every October 19. A contrary proclamation by the President may be construed as a violation of the legal precept that laws can only be repealed or modified by another law,” the former mayor said.
Puentevella added: “They forced to pass this bill, that after 77 years they will change the date of the Charter Day. This is an insult to the Montelibano, Ciocon, and Villanueva families who were appointed by former President Quezon as the first officials of Bacolod.”
On November 20, 2017, Puentevella sent a letter to Pangasinan Representative Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, asking for another committee hearing be held for the controversial move to change the city’s history.
The former mayor said that Abang Lingkod party-list Representative Stephen Paduano also tried to stop the passage of the bill, but failed to do it.
Puentevella added that he will wait for the Senate hearing to intervene.
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on February 13, 2018.
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