Council to close Burnham stalls

BAGUIO City councilors Leandro Yangot, Michael Lawana, Elaine Sembrano, Joel Alangsab, Arthur Allad-iw and Leah Fariñas voted to close stalls in the Burnham Park operating without business permits.

In a special session Thursday, the City Council converged to thresh out problems encountered in the conduct of the Baguio Flower Festival event at Burnham Park which left the body helpless as only 225 stalls has been approved but 326 are operating with carnival rides.

Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said the stall extensions and carnival rides by winning bidder, Maribel Chagwaten as approved by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated [BFFI] is an insult to the August body.

Bilog said the mere fact Chagwaten asked permission from Mayor Mauricio Domogan denotes full knowledge of the provisions of the Terms of Reference for the conduct of the trade fair but has bypassed the Council.

“We only recommended that the stalls be closed,” said Bilog.

Emotions ran high in the Council which was divided in the vote to close the stall extensions with differences in opinion.

Councilors Benny Bomogao, Elmer Datuin and Maylen Yaranon voted against the measure while Faustino Olowan abstained.

Couniclors Edgar Avila and Francisco Roberto Ortega VI were absent.

Olowan worried about the image of the City Council saying the body has become the laughing stock and reminded the body it has no power to close the stalls which only belong to the chief executive.

Baguio Flower Festival chairman for the executive committee councilor Elmer Datuin stressed the management of the festival still belongs to the BFFI.

As per the report of city treasurer Alex Cabarubias, whose team conducted an inspection, there are 22 stalls in the Lun a Drive extension area which includes giant slides and a carousel while the main area has 104 stalls, Lake Drive has 144 stalls, the landscape area has 19while the Liga ng mga Barangay has 37.

The City Treasurer’s team counted 326 stalls.

Lawana clarified only 29 stalls under the Liga has been paid for with tenants backing out of the trade fair.

Lawana offered to pullout the remaining unoccupied stalls to put criticism away from the barangay groups who set up the stalls for fund raising purposes.

Under the suspicions of corruption and irregularities, Datuin also clarified there was no circumventions in the bidding process with two bidders lacking business permits making them ineligible for the event despite having higher bids, catapulting Chagwaten to take charge of the entire Burnham event.

Chagwaten won the bid to organize the Burnham trade fair at P8.5 million.

Datuin also questioned the purpose of closing the excess stalls.

“Is it to destroy the festival?” adding stalls without permits should be allowed time to get the necessary papers but Alangsab cautioned the move will become a precedent to other groups which will want to similarly venture into BFF trade fairs, allowing a perception that shows the TOR’s can be circumvented without any grave repercussions.


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