THE mayor is standing by his men.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan rallied his trust and support for the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) in its management of the annual Panagbenga Festival.
Despite criticism from the local council Domogan said the BFFFI is a partner which was organized to spearhead the flower festival.
Calls were made last week to bring back management of festival to the city government following lapses cited by the Commission on Audit.
“Kapag city ang mag-lead, pag-uusapan natin yan,” Domogan said however he realized he does not want to repeat what happened in 2005 when the city government took over the management of the festival saying it should be the first and last after some problems were encountered.
A COA report done by Margie Bongait recommended to formulate guidelines of funds and submission of financial statements for transparency and accountability; execute a MOA between the city and the BFFI which has to be confirmed by the local council for efficiency and effective operations.
Bongait also cited the collection of special fees during the festival done by the BFFI which should have been done by the city hall treasury office mandated by the local government code.
“The act of allowing a private entity to collect fees and charges was contrary to fundamental principles governing the exercise of taxing and other revenue raising power of the local government unit,” added Bongait.
COA report also revealed the BFFI still owes the city P253,727.76 from gross amounts collected by the organization for last year’s festival.
“Kapag BFFFI ang mag-spearhead wala namang problema, mag-comply na lang sa mga kailangang i-improve,” Domogan said.
The chief executive also said the organizers and volunteers of BFFFI do not receive compensation from the city government.
The city government has been subsidizing the BFFFI with P4,000,000 annually with the funding going to prizes for contingents in competitions.
Domogan said the fund is not enough to cover the entire activities of the festival.
The chief executive added to help each other for the success of the festival, “This is ours, let us continue to sustain the festival.”
BFFFI co-chairman Freddie Alquiros explained they are helping in sustaining and promoting the festival known as the most organized in the country.
“Sa pamamahala ng BFFFI, we are operating on the basis of trust, walang tinatago diyan,” Alquiros said.