By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — A member of the Baguio City council admitted that a senatorial candidate violated the guideline set for politicians during the Panagbenga Grand Street Parade.
Councilor Elmer Datuin said Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. broke protocol when he went to shake the hands of some visitors last Saturday, March 2.
“That (shaking hands) was just one time in the almost two kilometer parade, at the Hotel Veniz area to be exact, but I immediately pulled him away,” Datuin explained.
But he denied that a bottle was thrown at Revilla. “To my recollection, there was no bottle throwing incident,” he said.
Datuin said he was walking beside Revilla from where the actor and former senator joined the parade until the athletic bowl. He said Revilla came late and joined the parade along Magsaysay Avenue area.
Revilla together with former senator Lito Lapid and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos joined the street dancing parade upon the invitation of the city council.
Datuin said he signed the letter of invitation for Revilla, Lapid and Marcos upon the request of his fellow councilors. He said Senator Cynthia Villar, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and Taguig Representative Pia Cayetano were also invited.
“Senator Villar, Pia Cayetano and Bong Go regretfully informed us that they could not come,” he said.
The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated (BFFI) stood by their guidelines and blamed the city officials for allowing the candidates to march with the street dancers.
BFFFI rules states that: “no political personalities may join the Grand Parades in any form or manner, except for incumbent local officials of the city of Baguio, from the present serving congressman, mayor, vice-mayor, councilors and barangay captains”.
On Feb. 11, the city council adopted the BFFFI guidelines but voted to remove the provision banning candidates from joining the parades in their version.
Datuin said while candidates were allowed to join the parade, they were instructed not to break the line, shake hands with the crowd, distribute election materials or wear campaign t-shirts.
“We specified the prohibitions in the invitation letter,” he said.
Attending yesterday’s street dancing parade seem to have not worked to the favor of the three senatorial bets. Majority of netizens commenting on their photographs and story online criticized the three for joining the parade.
In her comment, a Baguio artist, Kelly Ramos raised that the issue of politicians joining the panagbenga parade is recurring.
“Palagi na lang. Something must be done,” she said.
Many netizens also asked for explanation why the candidates were allowed to join the parade.# nordis.net