RDC members clash on autonomy fund use-A A +A
Sunday, September 2, 2012
MEMBERS of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) exchanged harsh words because of the use of the Special Autonomy Fund (SAF) on other matters.
The conflict in views stemmed from a proposal of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Myrna Pablo regarding a couture fashion week in New York that Cordillera will take part.
The proposal is asking for funding, which amounts to P489,532 as expenses. The fund was proposed to be from the SAF.
Pablo, in her proposal, said the country was luckily invited as one of the participants in the fashion show. She added that only two regions were invited from the country, and one of those is Cordillera to showcase its various indigenous garments and designs.
She said the couturier and designer of the garments will be Barge Ramos and the over-all in charge of the country's delegation is Leonilo Agustin. The event will start on September 15 to 17.
The venue will be in Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, New York. The venue, said Pablo, is a midtown Manhattan landmark luxury hotel renowned for over a century as one of the world's grand hotel that is close to shopping, entertainment and business. It is also considered a prime example of Art Deco period architecture and design.
Pablo said this is a great opportunity for the Cordillerans to promote its garments, industry and tourism destinations. She said this is also an opportunity to promote the minerals of the region.
There will also be an opportunity of the participants to meet buyers and investors which could improve the economy of the country, she added.
She presented this proposal during the RDC third quarter meeting held last August 31 in Baguio City with the presence of various government agencies and politicians.
The private sector representatives (PSRs) from various civic groups, however, violently reacted on the proposal.
Former La Trinidad mayor and PSR Edna Tabanda expressed SAF is for SAF; it should not be used for other purposes.
PSR Peter Cosalan also reacted, saying the proposed funding is so unjustifiable because they had just approved the programs under the RDC funds.
Private Sector Representatives lament this diversion of the autonomy funds might add to the slow pace of the information, education and communication campaign. It could also affect other programs that need priority funds. The debate lasts for almost an hour.
RDC chairman Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac pacified the heated discussion. He said the proposal is a unique and great opportunity for the region.
He added they should not just dismiss the proposal but to approve it subject to the availability of funds.
He ordered members to meet on Tuesday to determine if they have available funds after the finance committee will report.
Baac also said if they could reprogram their programs, then be it just to accommodate the proposal.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan expressed the event will be in futile if they will not provide funds for it.
He said not funding this program means RDC is not doing its responsibility to utilize its funds.
Domogan also expressed funds for RDC next year will be lessened once they will return huge unused funds.
RDC co-chairman Virgilio Bautista said there is a P20 million unused fund under the council's 2012 budget. He said this is a great opportunity to show off the potential products of the Cordillera.
But the PSRs remain unconvinced.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 03, 2012.