Councilor blasts Bowl development in privilege speech-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
AFTER weeks of publicly opposing the proposed development of the Baguio Athletic Bowl, Councilor Edison Bilog again criticized proponents of the development, emphasizing it is a “done deal.”
In a privilege speech during the City Council’s regular session Monday, Bilog said his reasons for opposing the development are beyond politics and not early politicking but an expression of how he loves the city, believing the Athletic Bowl, a public park, is for the use of the people of Baguio and not for the interest of a Korean company allegedly favored by the City Government.
Delivering the speech in Filipino, Bilog pored over the terms of reference (TOR), stressing several provisions remain dubious with the transfer of management and administration of the facilities, including the track oval to the developer, which he claimed may result in fees for the use of sports facilities.
He also questioned the 25-year contract the City will enter into with the developer with an option for another 25 years extension, claiming the facilities will be old and dilapidated by then when the developer turns it over to the city.
A Supreme Court decision issued on the case J. Lansang vs a Court of Appeals decision in February 23, 2000, citing Rizal Park in Manila as beyond the commerce of man and could not be subject of a lease contract, Bilog cited, is very much the same as the Athletic Bowl, which is part of Burnham Park.
He also cited a provision in Executive Order 695 devolving Burnham Park to the City Government issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last January 10, 2008, explicitly stating “the City Government of Baguio shall not encumber, mortgage or alienate any portion of Burnham Park unless approved by the secretary of the Department of Tourism.”
“Nasaan po ang approval ng secretary of Tourism upang ito ay ipaupa sa ibang tao o korporasyon? Masyado po yatang minamadali ang development kaya hindi natin tinutupad ang mga nakasaad sa ating batas at Executive order?” he asked.
He also questioned why the technical committee created by Mayor Mauricio Domogan only used the design and plan of the Filipino-Korean company when there are three other proponents.
He said one committee member told him that the Filipino Korean developer is allegedly the same developer approved then by the council during the term of former mayor Peter Rey Bautista to develop the Athletic Bowl.
This council resolution, however, was revoked by the City Council when public opposition against the development snowballed.
He also maintained his earlier statements that the TOR is allegedly based on the plan submitted by the Filipino-Korean developer BIC International developers with its president An Ho Yul.
In the plan, the proponent is proposing to build a nine-storey building, which will include the ground floor, while the first to second basement will be for retail outlets.
The third and fourth floors of the basement are for the pay parking area, which will form part of the commercial zone. The first to fourth floors of the building will be for accommodations or a residential zone.
At the back of the building will be the track oval, stadium, stand, bleachers, swimming pool and other sports facilities.
“It can be seen in the ground matchline A that track oval and sports facilities will have an entrance in the hotel which makes it appear that the sports facilities are part of the hotel,” he said.
Bilog also stressed the Local Government Code clearly states prior consultations are required before the development.
He said it is not right to have consultations once the TOR is approved, claiming it is better to have it before the TOR as it is a waste of time and money if ever the people oppose the development.
He added that four members of the technical committee told him they have no participation in the drafting of the TOR, as they are only involved in studies of technical aspects of the plan given them from the Filipino-Korean company.
“Isipin na lang po natin kung gaano kalalim ang kanilang huhukayin para po sa apat na palapag na basement. Karagdagan po nito ay ilang puno ang puputulin upang malagyan po ng entrance para sa hotel area para po paglagyan ng sports facilities,” he said.
The councilor proposed before the council a resolution requesting the city legal officer to issue a legal opinion as to the legality of leasing the athletic bowl.
He is also seeking the Department of Tourism for their comments on the development of the Athletic Bowl.
The local legislator also asked his fellow councilors to direct the Office of the City Mayor to conduct the required public consultation and furnish the Philippine Sports Commission with a copy of the Terms of Reference regarding the proposed establishment of sports facilities in the Athletic Bowl.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 11, 2012.