BACOLOD City – The Senate unanimously approved on Monday House Bill No. 7044 declaring June 18 of every year as the “Bacolod City Charter Day”, making it a special non-working holiday in this city.
The bill also provides that the inauguration of the City of Bacolod shall be commemorated every October 19, and the highlights of the MassKara Festival shall be held on the fourth Sunday of October.
House Bill 7044, which was filed by Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya on June 13, 2017 upon the request of Mayor Evelio Leonardia, amended Republic Act 7724 that erroneously set October 19 as the date for the celebration of the Charter Day of Bacolod City.
Section 2 of RA 7724 declared that “October 19 of every year is declared as a special non-working holiday in the City of Bacolod.”
Leonardia, who led city officials at the Senate hearing on Monday, said in a statement the 20-0 votes of the senators for the bill has been overwhelming.
“We believe we were able to convince the senators with the merits of our arguments…All considered, this is the only way we should interpret these events in our history. After 80 years, we will now have our history in proper order,” he added.
Leonardia said the city officials “owe it to our future generations that we observe and celebrate what actually our officials and forefathers did for our city.”
The amended bill was filed after the discovery that the City’s Charter was actually signed by President Manuel L. Quezon on June 18, 1938, making the date the actual Charter Day of Bacolod while October 19 was the inauguration of the first city officials, for which Quezon came to Bacolod.
At the hearing, Senate Majority floor leader Juan Miguel Zubiri read the bill before the voting, acknowledging the contribution of Senator Juan Edgardo Angara in the Senate version of the bill.
Zubiri had proposed a win-win solution for the holidays in Bacolod City, following the differing opinions among local officials over the significant events in the city’s history.
“I understand the differing opinions find support from the city’s rich history. They all raise valid points.
The Supreme Court has in the case of Mejia v. Balolong (GR No. L-1925, 16 September 1948) declared that the charter day is based on the date of the signing of the law or charter creating the local government unit,” the senator said.
“In the case of Bacolod City, Commonwealth Act No. 326 was signed by then President Manuel L. Quezon on June 18. In order to preserve tradition and recognize history, however, we welcome the commemoration and celebration of these three important dates,” he added.
Moreover, Leonardia said the city government gives due recognition to October 19 as the day the city officials were inaugurated.
“But we must distinguish which day was our city created and which day it was inaugurated. While both are historical dates, the Supreme Court is very clear on this in the Mejia vs. Balolong jurisprudence. The birthday and creation is the day President Manuel Quezon signed and approved Commonwealth Act 326,” the mayor pointed out.
House Bill 7044 is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte for it to become a law. (PNA)