Skewered

LAST May 5, 2018, Bacolod City held its second Chicken Inasal Festival. The city’s media reported that the grill was 300 meters long, 3,000 parts of chicken were skewered and grilled along the city’s streets from the plaza to San Sebastian. The area was closed so that only those with written invitations and passes could get in and feast on the chicken.

Actually the first Inasal Festival was held in 2009, but under a different city administration which is most despised by the present. By dubbing the 2018 as the “first”, the present government tried to erase the 2009 festival and can therefore reckon the 2018 as the first and earn the credit for it. Some people can be petty just to grab the honor.

Credit grabbing is not new; they happen quite often (the former administration of Monico Puentebella was accused of several) until researchers expose the fraud. Some heroes were unmasked and those considered non-heroes of the past are honored. When we celebrated

During the National Heroes Day on August 27, there were calls for a reappraisal of the heroes today and the discovering of the real ones. The real culprits are those who advanced their own merit (even if faked) to the detriment of others.

Reports prior to and after the festival said that the city had allocated P1 million for the festival and that 30 business establishments (not including those already in the chicken inasal business) have indicated their participation by setting up the 300-meter grill. Three thousand skewered chicken were simultaneously grilled, enveloping the area with heavy smoke. There was a “boodle fight” or mob eating with the hands in street party fashion.

According to reports, 300 to 400 people were invited. The festival happened when the barangay elections was to be held and it gave the ruling Grupo Progreso candidates and leaders a good time.

As the song “After the Ball was over” lamented, “many a hearts were broken” because many residents felt they were left out. Indeed, how could they even if grills were one kilometer long and 10,000 people feasted? But the lament is not on this aspect but on the question that still hangs: Was the city skewered?

Just after 15 days of the festival, Bacolod’s Number One Councilor Ricardo Tan asked in a privileged speech before the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) whether the organizers of the festival had already submitted the liquidation report on the P1million budget as required by law.

Grupo Progreso, led by Councilor Caesar Distrito ganged up on Tan, belittling his inquiry as sour grape because Tan was not invited. As a lawyer, Distrito knows that he did not answer the question, but diverted it. But as a lawyer, he also knows that when the argument goes ad hominem, it shows there is really no solid defense.

This tactic is described by serious writers as one that “ignores the message and pillories the messenger, a strategy (that) would be contemptible coming from a grabby ward politicians” and “unworthy of an intelligent and descent discussion.” Distrito insisted that it was premature to ask for that mandatory report, without saying when it would be mature. So he, the GP members and their media spokesmen just “pilloried” Tan for asking.

It is now September 3, 2018 or 120 days after the event but there is no report that an accounting was made. Tan asked City Accountant Corazon Cardel on July 16 for a copy of the liquidation report that GP councilors said had already been submitted to her. Tan asked because that report should have been submitted to the SP. Cardel passed on Tan’s letter to the SP indicating the SP should answer Tan. The SP just clammed up.

The events tell two things: there was liquidation but Cardel could not furnish it to Tan because the report could contain falsified information or forged signatures; or there was

Was the city skewered of P1 million since there were sponsors and chicken inasal businessmen who shouldered some costs? Could the city have legally spent P1 million even if each inasal cost P300 and every guest swallowed 10 pieces? It is not premature for Councilor Tan to ask again for the liquidation report.

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