THE recent issue involving the failed plans to develop the Athletic bowl at Burnham Park by Korean investors seems to have gotten a shot in the arm when it was inadvertently resuscitated by the delivery of another privileged speech by Councilor Richard Cariño during the regular session of the City Council last Monday.

To be fair about it, the speech of Councilor Carino was simply a rebuttal of the issues contained in the privileged speech delivered earlier by Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez, where the latter revealed supposed inconsistencies, omissions and alleged irregularities in the memorandum of agreement entered into by the city and Mr. An Ho Yul, representing a group of unnamed Korean investors, as well as the confirmation of the MOA itself by the august body.

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A perusal of the contents of the privileged speech of Councilor Rondez would tend to point out the necessity of an appropriate reply from the concerned individuals alluded to in her discourse if only to present a more balanced view of the whole affair.

In his speech it was made evident by Councilor Cariño that he was in part clarifying certain points of concern raised by Councilor Rondez that specifically pertain to the actions made by the Committee on Laws of the City Council of which he is chairman. As well, Councilor Cariño adroitly avoided complicating the issue by not taking the position of explaining in behalf of the other public officials mentioned in the speech of Councilor Rondez and simply stating that questions posed to the mayor and vice mayor will be best left for them to address.

On the whole, the privileged speech of Councilor Cariño attempted to establish several counter-arguments in an attempt to demolish the contentions presented by Councilor Rondez specifically: that the applicable law as far as the creation of the MOA is concerned is that of RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code more particularly several provisions of Section 18 & 22 thereof, and not RA 7718 or the Build, Operate and Transfer Law as posited by Councilor Rondez; that the lack of requisite authority for the mayor to enter into a MOA with the Korean group of investors was apparently cured in the subsequent confirmation by the City Council of the agreement albeit with conditions and, that the Committee on Laws followed procedure in the report that they submitted to the Council for the eventual confirmation of the MOA.

The final point that Councilor Cariño was trying to drive at in his speech is that the planned development of the Athletic Bowl is a timely and noble intention considering the present sordid and neglected condition of the said sports facility of the city.

If he is correct in his opening statement that for the past 35 years or so no major rehabilitation effort has been undertaken to improve the facilities at the athletic bowl then I wonder, after this failed plan of development, whether the city can still build up enough courage to pursue this effort. Well, may be the next administration would have better chances.

Now that both sides of this provocative issue has been ventilated to the public, at least on the part of the public officials concerned that is, then it behooves the citizenry to carefully scrutinize both sides of the argument and try to form their own opinion on the matter.

As for me, well I'll just have to wait for the next set of officials to discover for themselves whether it is worth their while to develop the athletic bowl which has become an eyesore and embarrassment for the City.

On another matter the scheduled deliberation of the proposed executive budget of the City Government of Baguio for CY 2010 in the amount of 1,042,183,000.00 pesos was stalled when several issues were raised by the some councilors on some details of the said proposed budget.

The Local Finance Committee represented by City Accountant Romeo Tabin, City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente, City Treasurer Thelma Manaois and City Planning Officer Arturo Orig attended to regular session purposely to assist, recommend and guide the council members in their deliberation of the budget but were unable to fully reconcile some of the issues presented by the Council members.

Among the issues raised were those made by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda who questioned the lack or omission of Barangay projects in the list of City priority development projects to be funded by the proposed budget. A remedy suggested and later on acquiesced by the body is the inclusion of barangay priority projects in the list of city priority development projects.

Other issues that were discussed involved the proposed estimates covered in the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) of the City, and the proposal to increase the budget by 15 million pesos. Upon the information given by City Accountant Tabin that he is scheduled to submit a report on the actual beginning balance of the city to the Commission on Audit (COA) on the second week of February, the City Council decided to schedule another regular session on February 8. 2010 so that they can be furnished a copy of the said report and supply them with sufficient data in discussing the proposed budget of the City.