CITY Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda appealed to the public to be reasonable in giving out comments opposing the building plan of the Athletic Bowl, which will be sponsored by a Korean investor.

The public should instead suggest the kind of development it wants so they will collate this and incorporate it to the terms of reference (TOR).

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Tabanda also clarified that the Athletic Bowl will not be privatized as alleged. “It is a build-operate-lease agreement. It is allowed by law.”

“It will be a long process,” Tabanda said. The plan to rehabilitate the Athletic Bowl is not a done deal yet, she said.

Tabanda said the Council merely gave the mayor authority to deal with the Korean investing group but development plans would still have to be hammered out.

She said that the city officials have the best intentions for the improvement of the Athletic Bowl, but for years, not one local developer signified plans of developing it, until a group of Korean investors offered to spend its own money for its development.

Tabanda is one of the councilors who voted to ratify the memorandum of agreement (MOA). Before the Council approved the MOA it set conditions before any development could even begin, she said.

Condition 3 of Resolution 515-2009 states that before development is implemented the TOR would have to also pass approval of the City Council.

Another salient point of the resolution is free access of all the facilities including the stadium for city-sponsored activities.

The City Government has, in the past, tried to develop on its own the Athletic Bowl, first with the Olympic-sized swimming pool. But it didn’t turn out to be beneficiary to the city, the official said.

“It has become a white elephant,” Tabanda said. She said the swimming pool’s use has not been maximized because it does not have heating equipment. Swimmers shun the very cold water, she said.

And instead of earning income, the city continues to subsidize the entire operation cost for maintaining Burnham Park, including the Athletic Bowl.

From P8 million in 2009, P20 million has been allotted in the 2010 budget for Burnham Park, said Tabanda. The budget increased after the President turned-over full administration of the park from the Philippine Tourism Authority to the local government.

If an investor is allowed to develop it, the city could cut on costs. “Look at Burnham Park. It really needs improvement,” the councilor stressed.

Meanwhile, an online petition was launched denouncing the signing of the MOA.

The same petition condemned the “careless and hasty approval of the MOA” by the Council, “without having the same undergo proper and transparent process of prequalification and bidding, which led to this appallingly scandalous contract.”

Councilors Elaine Sembrano and Isabelo Cosalan Jr. filed separate proposals seeking rescission of the MOA.

Both voted in favor of the ratification, during the December 12 session of he Council.