Baguio City council urged: Probe Panagbenga funds

>> Saturday, March 19, 2016

BAGUIO CITY – Concerned residents and cause-oriented groups here questioned finances of the recently-held Panagbenga Festival saying the public was entitled to know how much was spent and how these were used considering private individuals were used for activities, including children for parades.
Over the radio, they said the city council should conduct an investigation on the matter considering millions of pesos were involved and the public doesn’t know how these were used.
They said public areas like roads were also used for money-making schemes since booths were made over these and rented out to entrepreneurs for as high as P27,000 for five days of operation.
A resident who identified himself as Tony Afalla, said organizers owe it to the public to bare finances of the event, saying these should be published in newspapers so the public would be able to scrutinize these.        
To these, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) officer Anthony de Leon and chief of staff Evangeline Payno, of the secretariat said they accepted feedback for improvements in future flower festival celebrations.  
De Leon added that taxes, at least P2.6 million were paid to the city government and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), from the Session road in Bloom and Baguio Blooms events.
All documents including the audited report will be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission within August this year, de Leon said.
On other matters, De Leon said the festival is a continuous work in progress, thus suggestions for a longer parade route, and more landscapes at the Botanical garden and Bayan Park, Aurora Hill will be studied.
“Miracle gardens” are planned with a tripartite body; the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI), Dept. of Tourism and local government of Baguio.
Trainings for cultural dancers and landscapers have been done, de Leon said, with training for float makers and musicians on the planning board.
A Baguio Chamber of Music is envisioned, he added.
A collaborative effort for neighboring municipalities’ festivals is growing, with La Union and La Trinidad festival events done close to Panagbenga.
A bigger budget for drum and lyre competition is also seen, with more invited groups from other places, for “cultural variety.” 
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he envisions a more improved Melvin Jones and Athletic Bowl, both at Burnham Park for the next festival season, fenced-in additional seats for spectators, substantial renovation and matured grass within the running oval.
A thorough evaluation however is needed before the improvements are done, he said.   
 The all-morning local television coverage for the Panagbenga 2017 streetdancing parade shall be worked out, he said.
Home-bound spectators would once more witness said event, the mayor added.    
DOT Regional Director Venus Tan, during media forum , said the all-year round blooming and regreening project would go on.
This is supposed to start along Central Business District’s building facades, in support of Panagbenga 2017.
Domogan, said that all participants, volunteers, supporters including the Baguio City Police Office personnel and other assigned personnel made Panagbenga a “resounding success. Having a festival of this magnitude is not possible without them.”
Philippine Information Agency Regional Director Helen Tibaldo said Panagbenga 2016 is a “community pride,” where parochial interests are set aside.
The Baguio Flower Festival’s accreditation with the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA) was also delved into.
A subsidy, promotions abroad, trainings with scholarship, and nominations for the outstanding communication sector, participant and volunteer may be forwarded to IFEA, it was known.      

If the streak goes on, Panagbenga would live up to its name of being the “trailblazer” and “benchmark” festival, as earlier mentioned by Tan who said she was pleased with Panagbenga 2016’s success. --  With a report from Julie G. Fianza


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