Nalzaro: Sinulog controversies

DUE to the signal shutdown of all cellular providers for security reasons and since I was expecting a busy day for GMA 7’s radio and television coverage for the Sinulog grand parade yesterday, I submitted this column earlier than I usually do. So, I could not give accurate details on what happened in yesterday’s grand parade. I just hope there were no untoward incidents and everything turned out well like it did in the previous years. This was the 40th edition of the internationally known Sinulog grand parade since it was conceptualized and introduced in 1980.

But the preparations for Sinulog 2020 did not go smoothly. It was tainted with controversies. First was the resignation of Vice Mayor Michael Rama as chairman of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI). Rama served in the board in various capacities for several years. The creation of the Sinulog Governing Board (SGB) by Mayor Edgardo Labella, which the hizzoner chaired, triggered Rama’s resignation. Rama said the SGB would duplicate a function.

But Labella said that his purpose of creating the governing board is to have a check-and-balance and to safeguard taxpayers’ money. Big amounts of money from solicitations and sponsorship were unaccounted for by the SFI. The Cebu City Government is also subsidizing the SFI, especially for the prizes of the winning contingents. There was no proper accounting rendered by the SFI.

The second controversy was the exclusivity contract signed by SFI president Pericles Dakay and MyTV, a local cable channel. MyTV was given the exclusive rights to cover the contingents’ showdown or finale at the Cebu City Sports Center. Other TV networks were restricted to cover the event at the grand stage. If they would air the event, the other TV stations would have to ask permission from MyTV. If they use MyTV’s footage, the cable channel was to be given credit.

Even live streaming by other media entities and private individuals was prohibited without MyTV’s clearance. This triggered an uproar from other media entities and netizens. Fuming mad, Mayor Labella, who claimed to have no knowledge of the exclusivity rights contract, ordered the cancellation of the contract.

The third controversy was also the “exclusive right” given by SFI to a Manila-based pork and beef canned goods manufacturer to sell their products in the designated vending areas along the Sinulog parade route. Again, when he learned about it, Labella cancelled the contract, saying it violated the free market enterprise law. “The city is not bound by the exclusivity contract. The SFI should practice freedom of enterprise where everyone can sell and promote their products,” Labella was quoted as saying.

It is good that Labella created the governing board, for without the board, who will check the policies adopted and implemented by the SFI? This is the first time that SFI entered into an exclusive contract for TV coverage rights and the selling of food products. I hope these experiences will give and teach them a lesson that they can’t just impose their own whims and caprices because there is the governing board that monitors them. Had the mayor not cancelled those “exclusivity rights,” it would have become a precedent in the next Sinulog.

Now, who says so that the governing board is a duplication of function? So, Rama and the other critics of the governing board can now see the importance of its creation.


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