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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, October 5, 2013
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There is nothing wrong with the replica of the Bacolod Government Center along Araneta-Gonzaga streets in the City being covered by a tarpaulin bearing the MassKara Festival activities, since that has been a welcome marker ever since, Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella said yesterday.

“Now that it was made a welcome sign, what is wrong now?” Puentevella asked.

He said the structure costs almost P4 million and that is where the taxes of the people went. It is good that it has become an issue so the people will know that it costs almost P4 million, he said.

General Service Office head Gerome Solinap said the edifice costs about P3.8 million taken from city funds.

Former mayor now Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia yesterday said “Compare it pound for pound to his (Puentevella) P39-million computer procurement scam that was taken from his Priority Development Assistance Fund.”

Do you know how much P4 million can draw for a barangay program or medical program at the regional hospital (Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital)? Puentevella asked.

He said only the people who got offended are the ones who spent money on that welcome marker.

“There is nothing political here because ever since it was a welcome sign. I just want the people to know that that is where your taxes went,” he said.

City Administrator Rolando Villamor said over Bombo Radyo that the only way for the city to earn revenue on the almost P4 million edifice is to use it as a public pay comfort room.

He is contemplating on using it as a public comfort room so it can generate income for the city, Villamor said.

Villamor earlier said he believes the edifice serves no purpose and that he does not think that the structure will be used by the Puentevella administration for the MassKara and Charter Day activities.

Maybe, its function is for hanging tarpaulins as that is where they used to announce activities and events in the city, he said.

Leonardia earlier said the structure was conceptualized to commemorate the signing of the Charter of Bacolod City 75 years ago. At the same time, it has a provision for tourism purposes.

Leonardia said the structure can be used in several ways. The ground floor can serve as a souvenir shop for tourists and there is a provision for a satellite tourism office to entertain and answer questions from visitors, while the lobby can be used by artists for their exhibits.

He said the second floor can be an ideal place for VIPs and dignitaries during major events and can also be used by media to cover activities like the MassKara as it has a strategic view.

However, Leonardia said that any project or person associated with him or his administration is being targeted by the new administration.

Meanwhile, Puentevella said he is planning to meet with the Bacolod Kasadya Foundation Inc. so they can decide whether to allow the ukay-ukay (used clothing sale) to continue at the Bacolod City Hall, or have it transferred to another area.

“Whether they want to remove it or not, I am giving them the discretion. If they can give me a satisfactory reason it would be okay, he said, adding that he is sure that it is just a small problem.

Puentevella asked why the ukay-ukay suddenly became illegal when it has been in existence for several years already.

Kasadya Foundation chairman and festival director Rhoderick Samonte said the ukay-ukay is part of the “MassKara Baratillo Sale” and will run until the last day of the festival.

Asked for his reaction, Leonardia recalled that during the campaign, Puentevella said he will hold office at the Bacolod City Hall. Maybe that was what he meant.

Leonardia said this administration will have the distinction of turning the MassKara Festival into an ukay-ukay center.

“The big question is, where will the money go? Whose pockets will it go to?” he asked.

When Puentevella was asked if he will invite Leonardia to the MassKara, he replied that when he was yet congressman, he was not also invited by the former.

Leonardia said when he invited the public to the MassKara, Puentevella was part of it.*CGS



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