Alderman insists on full disclosure of Panagbenga finances

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By Briccio Cesar Domondon

Council Reports

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


THE City Council on Monday tackled the request by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. for the closure of Session Road and Lake Drive along Burnham Park for the conduct of the Session Road in Bloom and the Landscape and Market Encounter respectively but failed, however, to approve the said request.

This came about partly as a result of statements made by City Councilor Elmer Datuin, Chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Special Events, Parks and Playgrounds, raising questions foremost among which is the apparent failure of the BFFFI in submitting a detailed statement of income and expenses of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) audited financial statement it had earlier submitted for the operation of Panagbenga 2012, as well as a belated notice for the conduct of an executive legislative meeting to resolve the impasse.

In the pronouncements made by councilor Datuin made while the rules were suspended and in the presence of invited guests from the BFFFI and other agencies, he lamented the supposed reluctance by the organizers of the Panagbenga Flower Festival to submit to the city a detailed income listing among others, "the proceeds of the market encounter, Session road in Bloom, Athletic Bowl stall rentals, sponsorship revenues, donations and other expenses for the operations of Panagbenga 2012". He revealed that what the city council only received from the BFFFI in their letter to the Honorable Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas dated march 20, 2013 is a financial breakdown for the subsidy provided by the City Government of Baguio in the amount of 4 million pesos, adding further that the august body has not been given the courtesy of the required income statement as contained in two previous city council resolutions duly adopted by the august body.

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On the part of the BFFFI thru its legal counsel Atty. Rene Rondez, Chairman of the BFFFI executive committee Mr. Anthony De Leon and co-chair Mr. Freddie Alquiroz, they maintained that what they can only submit to the city are those financial statements already audited by an independent auditor, and in so far as the Market Encounter and the Session Road in Bloom is concerned-which Mr. De Leon admitted are income generating events to support other activities of the Panagbenga- no financial statements are obtaining as yet considering that it was delegated to other private entities for the purposes intended.

It was further admitted by Mr. De Leon that when the market encounter was previously handled by Atty. Damaso Bangaoet, another executive of BFFFI, an amount of around 1.7 million pesos was turned over to the Festival organizers as part of the proceeds of the said market encounter to support ostensibly other events of the Panagbenga festival.

Councilor Datuin on the other hand reiterated the need for the city to be fully appraised of the statements of income and expenditures of the previous Panabenga 2012 considering that the city has been subsidizing the flower festival in the amount of P4 million. He warned that as the councilor-in- charge for the budget of the City Administrator's Office where the subsidy of the Panagbenga 2014 is included he may not be able to fully recommend for the approval of the said subsidy unless and until he sees the detailed income statement of the panagbenga operations. He also stressed that the reason behind the request for the submission of the BFFFI of its detailed statements of income and expenditures is for the city council to determine whether there is further need of subsidizing the festival assuming that it has already enough funds for the purpose. On the other hand if it is determined that the festival organizers have insufficient funds then, according to Datuin, perhaps there can also be the need to further increase the amount of subsidy given by the city to the said flower festival to sustain its operation and success.

However, councilor Datuin is of the presumption that the BFFFI has enough money and the reason why it refuses to submit a detailed income statement.

After a lengthy discussion interspersed with clarifications by the organizers of the BFFI, the presiding officer Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas notified the august body that an executive legislative meeting is being scheduled the next day in order to resolve the issues raised during the council session and while the BFFFI thru Mr. De Leon made an appeal for the immediate approval by the city council of their request the presiding officer informed the latter that it cannot yet be done because of the questions and issues raised by the members of the council.

Nonetheless the presiding officer also made the observation that there is a need to be united in the resolution of the matter considering that the flower festival is almost about to officially start and that any further delay may affect the success of the celebration.

Finally, in the executive legislative meeting to be conducted it is hoped that thru the leadership and guidance of the city Mayor the matter of the market encounter and the Session Road in bloom will be finally resolved.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 29, 2014.

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