AFTER the successful 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) that ended in fireworks and a joyful mass last Sunday (January 31), now comes the time to pay the bills.
Organizers assured they worked within the P300-million budget they set for the IEC, and supplemented the registration fees with donations and proceeds from fund-raisers, like a priests’ concert.
“Kaluoy sa Ginoo, we have enough money. Hapsay ang dagan sa finances, wa ta’y cause for alarm or nagkalisod ta (By the grace of God, we have enough. Our finances are in order. We won’t have any difficulty),” said Monsignor Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
While much was spent in organizing the IEC, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma also said many rewards have been reaped, like the construction of a P500-million Pavilion at no cost to the Church and the repair of two seminaries near the Pavilion.
Aside from the physical aspect, the archbishop said there were also spiritual rewards gained.
“Ang dako nga gain ang atong spiritual gains, how this will make Christ the center of our lives. Maningkamot kita ang atong pagpakabuhi magdala og kausaban sa atong community ug simbahan (We will strive to live in a way that changes our community and our church),” Archbishop Palma added.
Meanwhile, some security duties are continuing beyond the IEC proper. A high-ranking official of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas said they are still securing some delegates who are visiting the sites in Bohol and Cebu.
“We will not terminate our security until the last of the delegates has left,” said Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, PRO-Central Visayas director.
Some of the delegates went to visit the Marian shrine in Barangay Lindogon, Sibonga, some resorts in Oslob and Moalboal in southern Cebu and Panglao Island in Bohol.
Gaerlan said he did not have the exact number of delegates, mostly from Taiwan and Canada, who have not flown back to their respective countries yet.
“They move in groups and we are monitoring them,” said Gaerlan.
The hotels where the delegates are staying are still being secured by the police, and delegates bound for the airport in Lapu-Lapu City are also escorted.
Gaerlan, on a personal note, said he plans to join the 52nd IEC in Budapest, Hungary. “I would like to go there. I would like to concentrate as a pilgrim,” he said.
The official said he will be retired by then but is willing to offer his expertise on security preparations.
“If they would consult me, I would be very willing to contribute whatever I can,” he said.
Gaerlan was designated head of the task group formed by Malacañang to secure the Sinulog and IEC, both of which ended without any major security problem.
As to the event’s finances, Monsignor Tan explained that a big portion of their funds came from the registration fees of the 13,500 IEC delegates.
Each delegate paid around US$200 or about P9,540 as registration fees. At 13,500 delegates, that amounts to around P128.79 million.
Other sources of income include P50 million in collections from the “Piso Para sa Misa ng Mundo” campaign and P100 million in various donations coursed through the IEC Finance Committee.
Organizers are also accounting for other sources of income such as ticket sales from a concert arranged by the Archdiocese of Cebu last year, among others.
In a separate interview, Archbishop Palma said the major donations included the construction of the P500-million Eucharistic Pavilion, donated by Duros Construction, and the Eukaristiya Garden of Thanksgiving at the Archbishop’s Residence.
Some people also donated items that were used during the congress proper such as pamphlets and logistical support such as chairs, tables and other equipment.
Some donors helped the food and accommodation committees by paying for caterers or the guest speakers’ hotel bills.
After a “generally” peaceful and orderly IEC, Cebu City police and traffic officials will start focusing on preparations for the campaign and election activities.
The Cebu City Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) will also prepare for the possibility that some meetings of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Summit in August 2017 will be held in Cebu City.
In an interview after the PCAC’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Engineer Eugene Elizalde, PCAC chairman, said they will now start preparing for political rallies and other campaign activities of national and local candidates.
“We can’t avoid that national candidates will hold their rallies here because Cebu is a vote-rich province, so we have to prepare for that. The police will be there not to be partisan but to maintain peace and order,” said Elizalde.
According to the Commission on Elections, the campaign period will start on February 9 for candidates running for national positions, and on March 25 for candidates for local positions.
Elizalde also said that Cebu City is prepared to host other big events since the City’s security and traffic plans have been tested and traffic managers and police officials already know what to do during activities of the same scale as the IEC.
“I would fairly say that we are ready. We have gone through the test already during the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) meetings, Sinulog and the IEC… Those events were very good training for us in terms of preparing for big events,” he told reporters Tuesday.
The possibility that Cebu City will be one of the venues of Asean Summit events was mentioned during PCAC’s regular meeting in City Hall on Tuesday. Elizalde said, though, that they have yet to confirm this.
In January 2007, some sessions of the 12th Asean Summit were also held in Cebu.