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Date of Dapa town’s founding day celebration questioned

By Roel N. Catoto

DAPA – Some residents have questioned the legality of holding the celebration of this town’s foundation anniversary saying there is neither legal nor historical basis on the choice of the dates.

Mimi J. Gotico, chairperson of Alliance of Concerned Dapan-ons, said the present officials led by Mayor Peter P. Ruaya have continued holding the celebration at the expense of public funds.

Gotico, a retired official of the Department of Interior and Local Government said the event would include sports activities and performances by entertainment stars from Manila.

Dapa’s current foundation celebration starts every August 8 and ends on August 12, which happens to be the birthday of the incumbent mayor.

Ruaya first became mayor in 2007 and was reelected in 2010. In his bid for a second term he beat Vicente Madlos, brother of Ka Oris or Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao.

The town based the holding of its current foundation day on the municipal ordinance dated June 30, 2008 fixing August 12 of every year as “Adlaw Nan Dapa” and declaring it as a “special non-working local holiday.”

But on August 4, 2008, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan disapproved the municipal ordinance.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan cited the following reasons for disapproving the municipal ordinance:

“There is no proof or evidence that a prior consultation with proper authorities like the National Historical Institute (NHI) has been made to establish background, historical significance and specific date as basis for the creation of the municipality of Dapa.

“There is no proof or evidence that a prior consultation with the townspeople or public hearing has been conducted.

“The matter of declaring a holiday is a sole prerogative of the President of the Philippines by way of a presidential proclamation, and the Congress through a House Bill of local application to permanently declare a particular day as a Holiday. Absent such order, the local ordinance declaring August 12 as Special Non-Working Local Holiday is without legal basis.

“In relation thereto, Section 27, Chapter 7 of the Revised Administrative Code, specifically, provides that The President may proclaim any local special holiday for a particular date, group or place.”

Despite the Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution the local government of Dapa under Ruaya has continued to celebrate the town’s founding anniversary on the same dates.

“It’s like they celebrate along with mayor Ruaya’s birthday. 5th year Foundation Day. It means Dapa is five years old now?” Gotico asked.

“Because of this, I have caused the filling of administrative complaint against the mayor for his persistent celebration of his birthday in the guise of the “Araw Nan Dapa” from August 8-12 of every year,” she said.

On Saturday, MindaNews texted the mayor for his comment, but he has not replied.

Gotico also questioned the disbursement of public funds for the celebration of the Araw Nan Dapa before the Commission on Audit (COA) as irregular.

But she said that Atty. Roy Ursal, COA regional director, replied that there were no irregularities in the disbursement of funds for the event because due to House Bill No. 6265 filed by Rep. Francisco T. Matugas declaring August 12 as Araw Nan Dapa.

Matugas filed the bill in the 14th Congress.

Gotico, however, countered that the pendency of the bill does not make the celebration legal, adding Matugas has not re-filed it in the present Congress.

She showed copies of letters from Rep. Imelda R. Marcos and Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. which said the bill has not been re-filed.

Both legislators chair the committee on local government in their respective chambers.

“This celebration is defective in nature and no legal basis,” Gotico said.

On August 9 at 7 P.M. the Philippine Basketball Association legend stars will play in an exhibition game at the Dapa gymnasium as part of the celebration of Araw Nan Dapa. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)

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