Explain solicitations for Charter events, Baguio execs told-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Monday, September 2, 2013
SEVERAL city officials have called for an investigation on the alleged solicitation activities in the name of the city as part of the Baguio Charter Day celebrations.
This came as reports floated alleging several officials of soliciting for already budgeted activities of the Baguio Day.
In Monday's executive-legislative meeting, Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas and other councilors called for proper accounting of solicitations made during the annual activity to see any irregularities.
The city's top two officials questioned why solicitations were made when the City Government allotted P1 million for the various activities in line with the celebration.
The Unity Ball, held Sunday evening at the Baguio Convention Center, got the biggest share of the pie, allotted with P180,000. Councilor Leandro Yangot called the activity, which only a few attended, "ostentatious."
He questioned why event organizers had to gather for sponsors when the City Government already set aside budget for the ball.
Fariñas said a cañao would have been more appropriate and meaningful and something more Baguio residents could partake of.
City Accountant Antonio Tabin called on committee heads for this year's charter celebration to submit reports on solicitations and actual expenses to be submitted to the Commission on Audit.
This as City Social Welfare and Development officer Betty Fangasan said solicitations from various businesses in the city was disallowed by her office while Domogan stressed he did not issue any certifications for solicitations.
Councilors Elaine Sembrano and Edison Bilog also expressed intent to call committee heads to report if solicitations were, indeed, made on behalf of the City Government as these are highly questionable.
Bilog said if public officials are caught soliciting from private individuals for budgeted activities they might be held liable for anti-graft and corrupt practices violations.
On the other hand, Mayor Domogan stressed the city will evaluate the veracity of these reports.
The mayor said the issue is centered on the transparency of solicitation activities, saying these must reflect it was used for city activities and not pocketed by certain public officials.
Councilor Elmer Datuin, meanwhile, defended the solicitations especially on the Miss Baguio activity stressing the annual pageant cannot survive with P50,000.
But he admitted there must be limit to solicitations even by if the pageant was outsourced to a private organizer so the city government is made aware on how much must be given to the yearly activity.
Meanwhile, Councilor Betty Lordes Tabanda called on the City Government to also look into the delayed and dragging Baguio Charter Day program.
She said the delay resulted in parade participants enduring the noon time sun.
Domogan also cut short the parade since city officials had to rush to the Children's Playground in Burnham Park for formal turnover rites with a mall chain which sponsored the place’s rehabilitation.
Councilor Datuin explained program organizers did not anticipate the long guest performances and speeches of officials.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 03, 2013.