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Baguio balks at being ‘default’ Cordillera sports meet host

/ 02:52 PM December 03, 2019

BAGUIO CITY —- After agreeing to again host the 2020 games of the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association, the Baguio government on Monday announced it would no longer be the “default venue” for the annual sports meet that is overseen by the Department of Education.

No province joined the process to select next year’s host local government prompting Baguio to assume the task.

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From 2015 to 2017, close to 6,000 highland athletes have gathered here for CARAA matches.

But this would be the last time, Mayor Benjamin Magalong told officials of the city schools division, who outlined how the agency plans to spend a P15-million CARAA allocation granted by the city during this week’s executive-legislative meeting.

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Host governments end up shouldering most of CARAA’s finances, with only a contingency fund coming from DepEd, he complained, when DepEd should be budgeting these events. “This was not even included in our 2020 budget,” the mayor said.

Apayao, which has been CARAA host for two times, was supposed to take over hosting chores next year, but suddenly begged off because of another important project to which the sports funds were realigned, said city schools division representative Gerry Imson.

What happens should no local government offers to host the next games, which are usually scheduled in February?

Imson said DepEd would have to suspend the competitions, whose winners would represent the Cordillera in the Palarong Pambansa.

Magalong suggested building a trust fund to be pooled from contributions from all Cordillera local government units because the steep cost discourages provinces from hosting CARAA.

Worse, he said, DepEd plans and executes these events without consulting the local government that financed them.

Baguio, for example, allocated P12 million for the 2017 CARAA Games, but was not supplied with a liquidation report nor handed an inventory of mattresses, sleeping bags, and other equipment, which DepEd purchased for the participating athletes, said Bonifacio dela Peña, city administrator.

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“These are city property,” he said, which could be used for other Baguio athletic programs.

These items were stored in public schools where the athletes were billeted during the CARAA events, and would be turned over to the city sports office, said Imson.

But dela Peña said the government has received unvalidated reports that some of these items were unused during the events and taken home by sports officials.

City Accountant Antonio Tabin and members of the city council also questioned “superfluous” expense proposals, including a P300,000 allocation for 300 souvenir programs, which Magalong described as “outdated” in a social media environment.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda also chastised DepEd for incorporating a P1-million contingency fund in the proposed CARAA financial plan, which “could become savings for DepEd should it not be spent at the expense of the host government.”

Marie Caroline Verano, city schools superintendent, said the agency would provide Baguio a new CARAA expenditure proposal. She said many athletes request for a Baguio venue “because they prefer playing in this city.”

Edited by Lzb
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TAGS: Baguio City, CARAA, Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association, Department of Education, DepEd, Local news, Philippine news updates
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