Issue of January 15, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Council not backing down on Panagbenga funds audit
by Jane B. Cadalig

The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) will accede to the long-standing request of the city council for the group to submit a detailed accounting of funds relative to the holding of the annual Panagbenga Festival.

BFFFI representatives Andrew Pinero and Evangeline Payno assured the city council on Monday that BFFFI will submit to the city government details of the funds raised and disbursed in the staging of Panagbenga.

They added the BFFFI is willing to execute a memorandum of agreement with the city government, where each party’s obligations, among other provisions, will be spelled out.

The Commission on Audit, in a memorandum dated March 17 last year, called the attention of the city government on the lack of a policy in the full accounting of funds and absence of a MOA between the city and the BFFFI in the conduct of Panagbenga.

The COA memorandum said the absence of the two requisites might lead to the inefficient administration of the festival.

Pinero said the BFFFI will comply with the COA memorandum. “BFFFI is willing to submit full accounting of Panagbenga funds up to the last centavo and the signing of a MOA. We will disclose the income and disbursement in detail,” Pinero said.

He said the BFFFI has never been furnished a copy of the COA memorandum.

“Had we been given a copy of the audit observation memorandum, then we could have acted on it,” he told the council.

Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said the city council is taking the COA memorandum seriously to avoid legal backlash, although the legislative body, since 2010, has been asking the BFFFI to submit a detailed financial statement of the Panagbenga staging.

The city council can be sued before the Ombudsman if it fails to act on the COA memorandum.

“We really have to act on this, otherwise, the city government will be sued,” Bilog said.

The BFFFI has been furnishing the body the summary of the audited financial statement relative to the holding of the month-long festivity, which it submits to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The summarized report includes the P4 million subsidy from the city government, sponsorships or donations from the private sector, and income from booth rentals.

But the former and current city council have been requesting that what is to be submitted at City Hall is a report detailing sponsorships, stall rental, including breakdown of funds received by BFFFI for sponsorships, Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter stalls as well as expenses incurred by the group.

Such detailed report was not forwarded to the city council despite repeated request from local officials.

Councilor Benny Bomogao said a detailed financial statement will guide officials if there is a need for the city to increase its P4M subsidy for the staging of the festival and will also help provide direction on how the savings, if there are, could be allocated for the benefit of the city and its residents, considering that Panagbenga is a community event.

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