The Trade Fair Ordinance and the Panagbenga Market Encounter-A A +A
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
A LOOMING possibility of the Panagbenga 2013 without the market encounter being held at Burnham Park surfaced as members of the City Council last Monday deliberated on the implementation of the city‚Äôs laws particularly Ordinance numbered 13 series of 2012 otherwise known as the Trade Fair Ordinance.
The ordinance, particularly section 2 thereof, specifically provides that ‚ÄúIt is hereby declared a policy of the Local Government of Baguio to regulate trade fairs in the City of Baguio by allowing the conduct of trade fairs for a period of not exceeding 15 days in suitable private places only and to totally disallow the conduct of trade fairs and other similar activities in all city-owned or city managed public parks, including government owned and controlled properties and facilities‚ÄĚ.
It‚Äôs quite clear under the said local law that any kind of trade fair or similar activity conducted for commercial purposes is now absolutely prohibited within city owned or managed public parks.
This was the dilemma that confronted the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) as it prepares for the next Panagbenga Flower Festival for this year 2013 since one of its core events is the so called market encounter which has been held within Burnham Park for the past 17 years from the time the festival was conceived. The market encounter provides one of the highlights of the Panagbenga and is an open air market/trade fair where novelty items and articles made from local and indigenous materials are sold to the public.
That the market encounter is a trade fair and a commercial enterprise conducted within Burnham Park is a given, and that it will violate the trade fair ordinance should it be held again this year in the same venue must also be admitted. That is the very reason why BFFFI co-chair Anthony De Leon and Panagbenga head honcho Amboy Guevarra appeared before the members of the august body last Monday precisely to appeal before the latter in the hope of seeking reconsideration in the conduct of the market encounter within Burnham Park.
During the discussion, the members of the City Council initially appeared to consider favoring the amendment of the trade fair ordinance to accommodate the conduct of the market encounter within the Burnham Park. It must be recalled that the trade fair ordinance, originally enacted way back in 1994, already underwent several amendments particularly in 1997, 2006, and in 2008. The latest amendment took place in 2012 and is a consolidated proposal of City Councilors Richard Cari√Īo, Edison Bilog, and Philian Louise Weygan-Allan after it was duly observed that Burnham Park has been abused and extensively used for various trade fairs, violating even the often mentioned but rarely followed policy that parks are beyond the commerce of man.
However, although the City Council seemed initially inclined to favor the introduction of new amendments to the trade fair ordinance it was held back from making a commitment due to the fact that so little time was left to approve such amendments before the Panagbenga and the market encounter goes underway this February. In other words, even if amendments are proposed to the trade fair ordinance this week the City Council will not have sufficient time to approve such changes to the law and have it applied for the purpose intended.
This dilemma in fact earned an appearance at the City Council of the city mayor Mauricio Domogan himself who, along with the presiding officer and Vice Mayor Daniel T. Farinas, last Monday conducted an impromptu executive-legislative session in an attempt to purposely resolve the matter. The executive-legislative session was conducted closed door during the recess of the regular session of the august body.
Later in the day, unconfirmed reports suggest that while the City Council was amenable to the amendment of the trade fair ordinance in order accommodate the market encounter at Burnham park, considering its status as one of the highlights of the Panagbenga, there was little or no time available for the aldermen to deliberate and vote for the passage of the said changes in the law before the market encounter is held. It may also be recalled that before a law takes effect there is need for publication in order to inform the public and this usually lasts for fifteen days.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 16, 2013.