DESPITE being dilapidated for more than three years, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) has been useful to thousands of fire survivors in Mandaue City, and has even hosted weddings and wakes, at no cost to the families.
It has also become a storage area for goods of the Cebu Provincial Government, and has provided water and electricity to evacuees.
But it is no longer the clean, imposing venue it was 10 years ago, when Southeast Asian leaders met in it to talk about a wide range of issues, including the need for public infrastructure.
For now, the Mandaue City Government and the Cebu Provincial Government are preparing to sign an agreement for the sale of the CICC for P350 million. The Capitol will forward the draft to the City’s Legal Office.
Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing said that the sales agreement will define the cost, terms, and other conditions like the administration of the facility.
“One of the things we requested from the province was that as soon as we pay the first payment, we will immediately assume administration over the CICC so that we can already open it up for possible developments,” he said.
Mandaue will pay for the facility in three tranches spread for three years. Once the agreement will be signed this year, Quisumbing said, the City will pay P150 million.
Another P150 million be given next year to the Province, and P50 million in 2019.
It has been a decade since the CICC was opened during the first term of former governor and now House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit (ASEAN) in January 2007. The summit was scheduled for December 2016, but a storm forced organizers to postpone it.
The construction of the facility cost the Province more than P800 million, but the land belonged to Mandaue City.
Last July 31, 2012, Garcia and six other Capitol officials were charged with violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for alleged irregularities in the construction of the CICC. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of the charges.
In October 2013, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu damaged the CICC. Before any repairs could start, however, further damage was caused by super typhoon Yolanda, which struck on Nov. 8 that year.
There have been no repairs since then.
The CICC grounds have served as the evacuation site for more than 2,000 families left homeless by a fire in Barangays Guizo and Mantuyong last March 2016.
Jason Maceren, one of the CICC management staff, said they allow families to get inside the facility, especially when it rains.
Maceren said that the Capitol also provided power to the families from 7:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. Their shanties, made of light materials like wood, canvas sheets, and cardboard, now fill what used to be the CICC’s parking lot.
Water is also available for a limited time each day.
Despite the difficulties, the families there manage to celebrate every so often.
“There have been eight weddings held in the lobby of the CICC. So far, 12 wakes were also held inside the facility’s compound. We provided them with chairs and tables, at no cost,” Maceren said.
The families know they cannot stay on the CICC’s grounds for long. At least 650 families have been validated and will either go back to the fire site or to another relocation site that Mandaue City will provide, probably in another city or town.
Lolita Casinillo, 48, a resident of Santa Cruz in Guizo, said she hopes that the mayor will accommodate her family in the relocation site, although her name does not appear on the validated list.
Casinillo said that the heat and the lack of comfort rooms inside the CICC compound are among their problems.
As to the disposal of CICC, Mayor Quisumbing said it was delayed because the Province had to ask for clearance from the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman, because of the pending case.
The mayor has no plan to transfer some government offices once the City will assume administration of the CICC, which was one option the former mayor had considered. Instead, Quisumbing said he will open it for a possible public-private partnership.
“I’m done spending for the CICC... I don’t want to spend more. I would rather see it operate as a convention center, maybe as a commercial development, so that at least there will be tax income for Mandaue,” Quisumbing said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2017.
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