City Councilor cites archives affirming October 19 as the date
By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga and Jerome S. Galunan, Jr.
In response to claims by former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella that changing the city’s charter date from October 19 to June 18 is “illegal,” incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia stood firm in his decision to have the date changed.
“It was very clear that the city’s charter was signed on [June 18], 1938,” he insisted. “We have a picture of it.”
“There is no malice here and there is nothing personal, this is about history and public records,” the mayor added.
When pressed on Puentevella expressing confidence 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, would be blocked by the Senate, Leonardia said, “How many senators do we have? It will go through the proper process.”
The mayor also took note of his predecessor’s claims the move would be a “slap to the face” of previous mayors, wherein the former city official named Alfredo Montelibano, Sr., Esteban Guanzon, and Mario Villanueva, saying Puentevella insulted himself, pointing out the latter is a “former mayor.”
He also noted, the annual MassKara Festival, which commemorates the city’s charter day, is an institution of Bacolod City.
“With or without the charter day observation, the MassKara Festival can stand on its own,” Leonardia explained.
Last May, an ordinance was approved formalizing the schedule of the annual MassKara Festival. 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.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr., who has previously expressed his opposition to the move, submitted a position paper reiterating his argument.
He cited a 1938 resolution, signed by then-Mayor Fernando Cuadra, that converted Bacolod from a municipality to the city, pointing out, “Nowhere did the said document mention June 18 as the birth of Bacolod City.”
The city councilor explained, the inauguration and installation of city officials was supposed to take place on October 5, 1938, as described in a resolution dated September 28, 1938; however, due to scheduling conflicts with former President Manuel Quezon, along with bad weather, the ceremony was moved to October 19, 1938.
Gamboa also pointed out, Commonwealth Act 326, or the The Charter of Bacolod as a City, which was approved on June 18, 1938, states: “The city government provided for in this chapter shall be organized immediately after the appointment and qualification of the city mayor, and the appointment and induction into office of the members of the city council.”
“When was the late Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Montelibano, Sr. appointed, installed, and inaugurated?” he asked. “It was on October 19, 1938.”
“Only then, [on] October 19, [that] Bacolod City commenced to be organized under the duly-appointed Mayor Montelibano,” Gamboa explained.
He also noted, in 2013, a commemorative stamp celebrating the 75th anniversary of Bacolod’s cityhood was issued on October 19 of that year.
The city councilor also reiterated the position of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), which specified, “The City of Bacolod commenced its ‘corporate existence’ on October 19, 1938 thus, it should celebrate its charter day every October 19.”
Earlier, following reports of a letter penned by the NHCP last December that backed up Gamboa’s position and outlined previous failed attempts to change the charter date, Leonardia said the letter needed to be “verified.”/DGB, JSG, WDJ