MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/16 January) — Organizers created a new committee in its preparations for the staging of the Kaamulan Festival this year: the “field operations committee” to focus on security, traffic management and other concerns in the Kaamulan grounds, where most of the activities will be held, the province’s tourism officer May Flor Intong said. Intong said the committee will be composed of representatives from the police, military, and other sectors.
She admitted that it was the peace and order situation in the Kaamulan grounds last year that prompted the creation of the new committee.
Cesar Apao, spokesperson of Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr, said the committee was intended to ensure that the rules and procedures in the conduct of the festival are followed.
He said the governor handpicked Juanito Aroa Jr, the general manager of the Malaybalay City Water District, to head the committee.
He admitted that in the past there were rules like the cut off for video cinco singing, placements of booths and stalls in designated areas, among others.
“There were rulings before that were not enforced that we want strictly followed now with the creation of this committee,” Apao said.
Apao dismissed reports of high incidence of violence during the Kaamulan Festival 2009 as a “hoax,” claiming only one stabbing incident that resulted in death was recorded.
”It’s unfair to us as it was only meant to discredit the Kaamulan,” he said.
Apao said it was normal to have fistfights and altercations among revelers.
He said accusing the Kaamulan as the cause of the violence is “an overkill”.
But Apao admitted that before the noise of the celebration, a group of tribal leaders had already held a ritual to cleanse past misgivings, including claims of over commercialization.
Apao said he still could not disclose the budget for the festival as it is still being finalized.
The soft opening of the festival is scheduled on Feb. 18. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)