Last Monday, the city council deferred formal action on a long pending proposal for the amendment of the city’s trade fair ordinance to include in the exemption the conduct of such fairs during institutionalized events of the city. The approval of the city’s trade fair ordinance underwent rough sailing before the previous city council because of numerous issues that were raised against its implementation. Salient points of the current trade fair ordinance is the prohibition to conduct trade fairs in parks and public places during certain months in order to allow local businessmen, particularly those in the public market, to be able to earn the needed income for them to sustain their living.
When there was no trade fair ordinance in place, the city council was vested with the authority to approve the conduct of trade fairs even in parks and public places that resulted into an outrage by the public because of the blatant commercialization of parks that tend to affect its image as a public place. Worst, most trade fair organizers do not actually maintain cleanliness on the places where they conduct such similar events. Another issue raised against the conduct of previous trade fairs is that the products that are sold in the booths were similar to those products being sold in the market thereby resulting to heavy losses among businessmen who were legitimately paying their taxes to the government.
Because the council was the one in power for the approval of trade fairs, it cannot be avoided that it had been a ‘milking cow’ of former and present city officials who were allegedly bribed in exchange for their votes to allow prolonged trade fairs by even foreign organizers. A lot of school of thoughts were explored prior to the approval of the city’s trade fair ordinance but its framers forgot to incorporate the most important aspect of it which would allow the conduct of such events during institutionalized events of the city so as not to ruin the tradition of conducting such fairs for the benefit of attracting the influx of more and more visitors to our city and for them to contribute in sustaining its robust economic growth.
We believe there is nothing wrong about doing or sponsoring trade fairs during institutionalized events of the city, provided, such fairs will be done pursuant to existing rules and regulations. Trade fairs must market the indigenous and unique products from the cordillera. Our attention was caught in last Monday’s council deliberations when the issue on the sale of similar products were raised because it defeats the purpose of such fair.
We suggest that the council already comes out with its definition of institutionalized events of the city so that future debates regarding the conduct of trade fairs in public places will not again be used as a modest election issue. Many city officials were able to survive huge election expenditures because of their support in circumventing issues raised against the conduct of trade fairs in the city when the ordinance was not in full force and effect. The council must already complete the whole package by patching up the loophole so as not again to give false hopes to future trade fair organizers but only to end up demanding for higher compensation in exchange for an affirmative vote.
The council must learn its lessons from the past and put things in order. For sure, no member of the council in his or her right mind would do the same because they prefer to have loopholes in existing ordinances so that they could easily circumvent local legislative measures to suit their own personal and political interests. The amendment of the trade fair ordinance would open the floodgates for more changes until such time that its pertinent provisions prohibiting the conduct of trade fairs will be rendered useless. We deplore unified actions to render the noble trade fair ordinance useless. It was put in place to stop the abuses of city officials in trying to skirt around the local legislative measures to allow their benefactors to pursue the conduct of their desired trade fairs even right in parks.
The people can longer afford to take how the council acts on sensitive issues that affect the general welfare. Let us be vigilant on the future actions of the city council on the pending issue of amending the trade fair ordinance. Let us not allow the potency of the ordinance to be mutilated.
We are not opposed to the conduct of future trade fairs but it must be done pursuant to existing rules and regulations. Let us provide our people and visitors a venue where to see one of a kind products that are worth promoting to the outside world. Let us not sacrifice the interest of our local businessmen doing legitimate business around our city. Let us support the endeavor of making the city the gateway to quality products being produced regionwide. Let us allow everyone to earn a descent income to sustain the living condition of their families without depriving our visitors and local residents access to the products of the Cordillera.