By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
After House Bill No. 5875, legislation introduced by Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya that changes Bacolod City’s charter date from October 19 to June 18, passed its second reading last week, former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella expressed his opposition to the move, calling it “illegal.”
He claimed no public hearings were held with regard to the matter.
“I don’t understand why the present administration is pushing this [on] city residents,” Puentevella said.
Last November, Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. requested hearings on the charter day issue, which was rejected. City Councilor Caesar Distrito responded to the request, saying, “The [Sangguniang Panlungsod] had already approved the resolution.”
The former mayor pointed out the National Historical Commission (NHC) has bucked the claims of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who made the initial request to change dates, “time and time and again.”
In response to a letter earlier penned by the NHC, which noted former President Manuel Quezon signed Commonwealth Act No. 326, which established Bacolod as a city, but it was only on October 19, 1938 when Quezon visited Bacolod City and organized the new city government by appointing the city’s first mayor, Alfredo Montelibano, Sr., Leonardia said he still needs to verify the letter.
The mayor, however, stood firm on his position, stating, “We should correct it now.”
Puentevella, meanwhile, called the proposal a “betrayal of public trust” and a “slap to the face” of previous mayors, including Montelibano, Esteban Guanzon, and Mario Villanueva.
The former mayor, however, said he is confident, if the bill makes it to the Senate, it would be rejected.
Puentevella also presented a 2012 document from the Office of the President that affirms the city’s charter day must be observed every October 19.
Last May, an ordinance was approved formalizing the schedule of the annual MassKara Festival, which commemorates the city’s Charter Day every year. The ordinance, authored by Bacolod City Councilor Em Ang, who was also a co-author on a resolution endorsing the Gasataya bill, set the fourth Sunday of October as the permanent schedule for the Masskara Festival highlights./DGB, WDJ