Baguio court extends suspension of Miss Universe fundraising
BAGUIO CITY—Ruling that “the end cannot justify the means,” a Baguio court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday to suspend until January the operation of a bazaar at Burnham Park here that was intended to raise funds for hosting the Miss Universe candidates.
The bazaar was organized by businessmen, notably members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB), as a fundraising activity from Dec. 1 to 30 to help pay for expenses and fees for the Jan. 18 visit of Miss Universe contestants here.
The Philippines is hosting the Miss Universe pageant at SM Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 30. Baguio was selected as one of the pageant’s key destinations which may be featured worldwide during the show’s live broadcast.
But businesswoman Elena Lao asked the court last week to stop the bazaar from being staged at the park because, she said, it violated a 2012 ordinance regulating trade fairs in the city.
The ordinance bars public parks from being used as venues for trade fairs, bazaars and other commercial projects.
Lao also said the bazaar may cripple some local businesses. She is a member of the family operating the Tiong San chain of stores here.
Judge Maria Ligaya Itliong-Rivera of the Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch 5 said she was “not unmindful of the difficult situation HRAB [was] in.”
“Let it be emphasized, however, that there are rules and ordinances which govern us that even the highest official of the land ought to follow and which the courts are duty-bound to uphold,” she said in her order.
Aside from the trade fair ordinance, the bazaar also violated Executive Order No. 695, which gave the city full management of the Burnham Park reservation, Rivera said.
HRAB had said profits from the bazaar would be used to “defray the hosting fee and other incidental expenses for the pageant.” The pageant organizer, the Miss Universe Organization, had reportedly asked for a P25-million hosting fee.
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