January 17, 2010 in Featured
By MAURICE MALANES
BAGUIO CITY — If they thought the issue over the Athletic Bowl has been put to rest after they recalled their earlier position of approving a deal with Koreans to develop and lease the facility, the involved city officials may have to brace themselves for the continuing actions of a vigilant public.
“We cannot just sweep the issue under the rug,” said University of the Cordilleras’ College of Law dean Reynaldo Agranzamendez. “The involved city officials must still be held accountable for entering into a deal without the necessary legal processes of public consultation and public bidding.”
Agranzamendez is the legal counsel of the Baguio Multi-Sectoral Group, whose leaders and members include religious and civic groups.
Leaders and members of the group were supposed to file a class suit against both parties of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) and the members of the city council who confirmed the MoA.
But they had to rethink their move after a local daily reported on Jan. 13 that An Ho Yul, the representative of the Korean party to the controversial MoA, had backed out. They also would like to ascertain that the Koreans have indeed officially retracted in writing the questionable deal.
City Mayor Peter Rey Bautista, who signed the MOA last Dec. 10, and members of the city council who unanimously confirmed the agreement last Dec. 21, all have retracted their positions because of popular opposition.
“Still, the fact that this (controversial MoA) happened must be a cause for alarm because this kind of questionable deal did not happen just once. There were the controversial car plan and the Jadewell fiasco,” said Agranzamendez.
He was referring to the proposal by city councilors to provide themselves service cars right after they assumed office three years ago and the controversial pay parking company, which the past city council authorized to collect fees from owners of parked vehicles along the city’s streets.
Meeting on Jan. 13, the multi-sectoral group leaders stressed that the unmaintained and unkempt Athletic Bowl south of Burnham Park needed repair and development. But its leaders asserted that any development of the facility must be done legally and rightly.
“We must ensure that the utter disregard for transparency and democratic processes must not happen again in the future,” said Jose Taguba, one of the group’s leaders.
But Taguba cheered up leaders and members of the group gathered at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) to “congratulate ourselves for our continuing vigilance.”
Leaders and supporters of the multi-sectoral group said the controversial MoA speaks volumes about those who pushed and approved it and then changed minds and “washed their hands” only after a vigilant public exposed what it asserted was irregular.
“Those involved either lacked the capacity to discern what was irregular or were aware of the irregularity and questionability of it all but helped push it anyway,” said lawyer Roney Gandeza.
Had the deal with the Koreans succeeded, the city would have been at the losing end, considering the “minuscule” proposed 100,000-peso monthly rent for the athletic bowl facility even if this would be raised to 140,000 pesos for the next 25 years, said Agranzamendez.
Leaders and members of the multi-sectoral group all agreed that a better and “more win-win” lease and development package for the neglected athletic bowl facility and its surrounding environs could be ensured through “a transparent, participatory and democratic process.”
Rev. Simplicio Dang-awan Jr., UCCP-Baguio senior pastor, had suggested that the group issue a “statement of concern,” which can also help other members of the public to be ever-vigilant in scrutinizing the actions of their elected officials. # nordis.net