Councilor calls city to run Baguio flower fest

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014


REINVENT how major tourism events are ran in Baguio City.

Councilor Leandro Yangot called for the City Government to take the reins once more in the running of the Baguio Flower Festival during a long overdue privilege speech delivered in Monday's City Council session, highlighting alleged irregularities in Panagbenga 2014.

"It is a high time the City government take over the management of the Flower Festival," he urged adding this year's staging of the Panagbenga "was so commercialized."

He concluded the event transformed "from a cultural event to a commercial shot and from community affair to a marketable enterprise."

In particular, he scored the removal of the landscape competition in barangays and schools and lashed at the conduct of the trade fair and Session Road in Bloom.

He emphasized that the barangay and school based landscape competitions showcase the capabilities and joint efforts of the people of Baguio as one community.

He alleged that these activities were scrapped because they were merely for show and not income generating activities.

He went on to point out Session Road in Bloom, which was supposed to be only along Session Road, was extended to Calderon Street, Post Office Loop, Malcolm Square and Perfecto Street without proper authorization.
"Profit was the main motivation of the market encounter instead of the promotion of culture and the arts through trade," he said.

The city councilor underrated the products sold in the trade fair which were similar to those put up for sale in public market and malls.
“The Trade Fair Ordinance envisions showcasing culture; arts and crafts of local artists, however, the trade failed to do that this year,” Yangot added.

In his speech, Yangot said an estimated P9,800,000 was collected at the market encounter covering 245 stalls with around P40,000 to P60,000 worth of rentals each. There was also an estimated P6,831,500 collection at the Session Road in Bloom covering 220 stalls with around P15,500 to P46,000 worth of rentals each. These included those in the unauthorized extensions, 16 stalls at the Calderon St. with P46,000 rental each and another 16 stalls at the Post Office Loop with P15,000 rental each.

Some 27 stalls were given to the Liga ng mga Barangays at the foot of Session Road rented out at a maximum of P30,000 per stall. Some 53 stalls were also operated by the Liga at Malcolm Square, 49 of those were rented out at P18,000 per stall and the others at P13,000 per stall.

In total, there was an estimated P19,441,500 collection from the trade fair which does not include yet the rental of the stall at the Athletic Bowl put up during the street dancing and float parade and the unaccounted sponsorships for the Flower Festival, he said.

Yangot said that despite the profits generated during the month-long festival, the City Government did not get any share. This even as the city government allocates P4 million yearly for prizes of winners in the different competitions.

He said the alleged double killing made by the organizers by billing the trade fair participants with rentals and additional electricity fee ranging from P5,000 to P30,000 per stall citing the case of participants the councilor identified as Mr. Chungalao and Mr. Defiesta.

"Up to this date, the organizers have not paid Beneco (Benguet Electric Cooperative) for the electric power consumption in relation to the market encounters,” he said.

According to Yangot, the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. decided to open the unauthorized extensions of the trade fair and issued business permits to the participants.

With these, he called for his colleagues in the City Council to improve the conduct of the next Flower Festivals by considering the following proposals: accounting and auditing of and post evaluation of the past Panagbengas; assessment of the Panagbenga 2014 and its conduct in the previous years by the stakeholders; institutionalizing of the Liga ng mga Barangay’s participation in the Trade Fair; conversion of the City Tourism Office and Special Events Division of the administration office into a regular department; conducting of thorough inquiry on the alleged irregularities by the City Council Committee on Tourism; convening a management team composed of all the branches in the city government and representatives of the community which will be in-charge of the preparations of Panagbenga 2015 and years thereafter; and most specially, placement of the management and operation of the Panagbenga to the City Government of Baguio.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 22, 2014.

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