IN A privilege speech delivered in one of their regular sessions, Councilor Richard Cariño answered Councilor Perlita Rondez's allegations relating the ongoing fencing of the park and the Athletic Bowl restoration issue.

Cariño and Rondez are both members of the Committee on Laws, with Cariño as committee chair.

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Cariño said that in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with An Ho Yul, nothing states that the investor will own the Athletic Bowl.

He also said that there is no hotel and shopping arcade in the MOA. All proposed developments in the area are sports related.

Cariño also stressed the irrelevance of Republic Act 7718 or the Build-Operate-Transfer Law in this case. The absence of a publication inviting submission of bids, failure to obtain the approval of the National Economic Development Authority and the absence of bidding do not mean that irregularities happened when the Council signed the MOA.

Cariño however, cited that the Local Government Code applies in this case. He said that in the Section 18 and 22 of the Code, it states that local government, as a corporate entity has the authority to create its own sources of revenue to implement development plans.

The councilor though, admitted that the MOA was signed first before the Council has confirmed it.

Before the MOA was submitted for deliberation during session, Rondez was aware that the issue will be discussed and possibly voted on during their December 12 session, but Rondez was absent, Cariño said.

Cariño added Rondez was not objective in the presentation of facts as contained in the MOA. "You reaped praises [after your speech] at the expense of your colleagues [in the Council]."

Rondez's criticism of the Burnham fencing project was also censured.

Cariño said she put into bad light the people who volunteered their services.

"Why are you complaining when the donors are not?" Cariño stressed.

Rondez' response

In an impromptu press briefing following Cariño's speech, Rondez reiterated a hotel and a shopping complex will rise at the Athletic Bowl.

Rondez, who was in the brink of tears, pointed out, the MOA may not state a hotel and a shopping arcade will be built but the designs attached to the MOA showed structures that were labeled "shopping arcade" and "hotel".

She likewise denied allegations she was riding on the issue. Rondez added she's merely asserting her duty as a legislator.

Fencing committee speaks

In a separate interview, Burnham Park fencing committee chairman Vic Agcaoili also lamented the allegations hurled at the group.

"The least she could have done is to thank us. This is all voluntary, for the love of Baguio."

Agcaoili said the group decided to include maintenance fees for the donation because government has not done anything to improve the park.

He said if government were to "maintain" the fences, these will be left rusted and vandalized like the old fences, which they rehabilitated through their adopt-a-fence program.

Cariño's challenge to antis

Cariño added, the Council's confirmation of the MOA may be unpopular in the eyes of the public but they were rational and concerned about the present condition of the Athletic Bowl.

"It is not how unpopular to some that our decision will be remembered, it is how we stood our ground," the councilor said and challenged those who opposed the project to come up with a better deal.

A deal where development will be at no cost to the city government and where city's athletes will be allowed to use all sports facilities for free.