A DEAL that would have jumpstarted development of the Athletic Bowl was withdrawn Monday, following public rejection of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) brokered with a group of Korean investors.
An Ho Yul, representative of the Korean group, is also reported to have backed out from implementing the development, albeit a written retraction has not been transmitted to the Mayor's Office.
Earlier, Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. said the investor withdrew because of public opposition. In effect, he said potential investors to Baguio are being driven away.
Councilors who voted in favor of confirming the MOA filed separate resolutions withdrawing the same, but explained there is no truth to allegations circulating over the Internet that money changed hands, reason they voted in favor.
Councilor Nicasio Aliping Jr. said the public's vigilance in protecting city-owned properties is admirable, but rejecting the idea at this time is premature.
"It is not a done deal," he said, as he called on residents of Baguio to suggest what kind of development it wants for Athletic Bowl.
Reacting to Councilor Perlita Rondez's privilege speech, which alluded that the signing and confirmation of the MOA is tainted with irregularities, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said the deal is perfected only with the confirmation of a contract.
At the moment, she said nothing could be enforced yet as the terms of reference have yet to be drafted.
In her speech, Rondez assailed Mayor Bautista, Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas and her colleagues who voted for the MOA's confirmation.
She said Resolution 515 was railroaded as it was hastily approved despite earlier agreement they were not supposed to have a session on December 21.
Rondez said the signing of the MOA confirmation appeared to have violated several laws, such as the failure to call for a competitive bid process and violation of the Filipino first policy.
She said the council was not fair when it passed Resolution 515 for it did not consider that the University of the Cordilleras is also in the process of drafting the Burnham Park master development plan.
On the part of the mayor, Rondez said the department heads who could have reviewed the MOA, including the proposed design, should have been consulted.
She also criticized the ongoing fencing project of Burnham Park, saying fencing at the Harrison side should stop for the meantime until UC has completed its design.
Her colleagues, however, did not let Rondez's criticisms pass. The vice mayor said the approval of the resolution was not done in haste.
She was also chided for using the issue as mileage to gain popularity, which would help her win for re-election. She is also said to be emotional over something that has not been consummated.
In effect, the council turned down her recommendations to refer the MOA to the Commission on Audit and Office of the President.
The council said if Rondez wants to file a complaint for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards and violation of the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, she must do this on her own.
Tabanda said approving Rondez's recommendation to refer the MOA to these offices is like incriminating themselves to an accusation, which they deny.