INSPITE of the appeal issued by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan to allow the Baguio Blooms Trade Fair at the skating rink, the City Council voted to reject the letter-request of the mayor.
Councilor Elmer Datuin who sits as executive chairman of the executive committee of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated [BFFFI] was the lone voter in favor of the request while Councilor Francisco Ortega VII was absent during the regular session.
Voting no to the trade fair are Councilors Leandro Yangot, Peter Fianza, Elaine Sembrano, Joel Alangsab, Arthur Allad-iw, Leah Farinas, Edgar Avila, Faustino Olowan, Benny Bomogao, Mylen Yaranon, Association of Barangay Captains president Micheal Lawana, and SK Federation president Levy Lloyd Orcales.
Datuin said the action of the council will be referred to Domogan, who also sits as chairman for life to the BFFFI.
“This is an expression of belief, we will take into consideration the sentiments of the City Council,” Datuin said as he appealed to colleagues to cooperate for the success of the annual festival.
Datuin added an alternative site, the parking area beside the athletic bowl is being considered.
Olowan, who chairs the committee on laws said the skating rink is the root of objection from the council and not the Baguio Blooms event.
Olowan said the stalls must relocate as the council voted to deny the appeal of the mayor.
The councilor said the City Council should have been consulted first saying holding the Baguio Blooms violates the local government code, the environment code as well as the trade fair law.
Domogan earlier asked the City Council to hold the Baguio Blooms at the skating rink of Burnham Park saying it was the option after Lake Drive was cancelled.
He said during the launching of the “Panagbenga 2019” on December 17, last year, he agreed not to utilize the Lake Drive as the site of the Baguio Bloom and will instead utilize the skating rink area. He said he did not hear any objection.
“If the authority given by the City Council to the BFFFI to manage the Panagbenga and all the programs and activities of the same which is the basis for the later to locate venue for the said activity when Lake Drive road was agreed not to be utilized anymore, is not sufficient, as I had said in my letter dated January 28, 2019, please do not object and instead support it for we know that Baguio Bloom which includes the landscaping is a very important activity of Panagbenga,” Domogan added.
The mayor said the city needs to hold the Baguio Blooms as part of the Panagbenga attraction and it will “help sustain the budget for the festival.”
The city, he said, has increased its subsidy for participating elementary and high school contingents from P40,000 to P100,000. Prices for the winners of the Grand Street Dance and Float Parade were also increased.
“Therefore we respectfully reiterate our appeal to this August Body not to object and instead support and approve the conduct of the Baguio Bloom at the Skating rink area subject to the rules and regulations that will protect the trees, prevent damage on the park and with security to ensure peace and order, as well as street sweepers and garbage collectors to ensure cleanliness and proper waste disposal,” the mayor said.
“Clearly, the conduct of the Baguio Bloom as one of Panagbenga’s important program is an institutionalized city and community activity which is clearly allowed by the environment code,” he said.
The mayor also asserted that the skating rink was once utilized as venue of the Baguio Blooms “and it was not questioned by the City Council.”
With regard to the issue on protecting the rink and Burnham Park from litter and destruction, Domogan said the City Engineering Office has been tasked to ensure that the trees are protected and the stalls will not damage the park.
“As I likewise said in my letter, we did try to locate for another venue and even considered the surrounding of the Baguio Convention Center but it is not available because of the ongoing rehabilitation. We likewise considered the Old Auditorium and Ganza but we did not pursue any of them for we know that these are for our parking spaces that are likewise needed very badly for parking,” he added.
Domogan said the budget set for the landscaping is also not enough at P630,000 as this will also cover the light and water expense.
Domogan also denied that the event will violate the Trade Fair Ordinance.
“While the trade Fair Ordinance of 1994 had been amended, it did not change the fact that the legislative intent as interpreted by this August Body does not cover Baguio Bloom and Session Road in Bloom which are institutionalized activities of the City and the BFFFI,” Domogan said.
The chief executive added the share of the Association of Barangay Council will be maintained, with 20 stalls allocated.