Osmeña offers ‘pork’ to Gullas-A A +A
Saturday, September 22, 2012
THE former enemies are now textmates.
Rep. Eduardo “Eddiegul” Gullas (Cebu Province, 1st district) revealed yesterday that Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south) “yielded” P400 million in savings from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in favor of the ongoing road-widening project in the City of Naga to Sibonga.
The amount was reportedly intended for a proposed flyover in Cebu City.
Osmeña confirmed his decision in a separate interview, saying that projects he proposed for the city were blocked by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama anyway.
“I am doing this for Cebu,” the former Cebu City mayor and now first-term congressman said.
Osmeña and Gullas had clashed over the South Road Properties (SRP), formerly known as the South Reclamation Project, after Gullas claimed that part of it rightfully belonged to Talisay City.
Yesterday, however, Gullas revealed he and Osmeña are now textmates. He made the announcement during the opening of the Gullas Cup basketball tournament, involving three towns and three cities in the first district.
In his opening speech, Gullas recalled that when he asked Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for additional funds for the P1.025-billion Naga-Sibonga road-widening project, the official told him to look for a congressman who is willing to yield his savings.
Gullas said he has P250 million in savings from his 2010 and 2011 PDAF, but he needs more for the project.
During a hearing of the House committee on appropriation and budget, he was surprised when Osmeña told committee chairman Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya that he was giving up his savings in favor of Gullas.
“Na shock ko ug wa ko magdahom (I didn’t expect that),” said Gullas. He said he accepted it, with gratitude.
Gullas learned from Osmeña that the fund was intended for his proposed flyover in Barangay Lahug, which Mayor Rama opposed.
Now Gullas already has P650 million. He promised to raise P325 million more to realize the project, which he said has “regional influence.”
Once completed, he explained, the road will benefit commuters from Bohol arriving at the Taloot, Argao port; commuters from Negros Oriental arriving at Samboan town port; and from Negros Occidental arriving at the Toledo City port.
Aside from converting the two-lane road to four lanes, the project involves the widening of six bridges and construction of 37 drainage and culvert systems.
Gullas recalled that their friendship was revived in 2010 when Osmeña asked Gullas to help him facilitate his congressional initiative.
Gullas arranged a meeting with Environment Secretary Ramon Paje. Through his guidance, they went to Paje’s office and Osmeña got what he wanted.
Osmeña at that time was allotted P20 million in congressional initiatives for 2011 and 2012, said Gullas. Gullas only got P10 million from his previous year’s initiative.
Osmeña’s quarrel with Gullas began after the former Talisay City mayor blocked Cebu City’s application for special patents of the South Road Properties in 2003, by claiming ownership of a 53.44-hectare portion that falls within Talisay’s area.
The rift worsened in 2004 when Osmeña, then mayor of Cebu City, drove away fish vendors who happen to be Talisay residents from Cebu City’s public markets.
Despite the appeal of then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Osmeña then closed the South Coastal Road, a component of the SRP connecting Cebu City and Talisay to the southern part of Cebu Province, to motorists.
In 2005, Osmeña questioned in court the conversion of Talisay into a city, on the ground that it lacked the required population.
Gullas had said that based on existing municipal boundary monuments, 60 to 70 hectares of the P2.8-billion reclamation project falls within the jurisdiction of Talisay.
When asked yesterday if he will withdraw his claim, Gullas said that since it was filed in court, it is now up to the court to decide.
Osmeña said he only had a rift with Gullas because the latter blocked the release of the titles for the SRP.
“The titles have already been released. Gullas and I are already talking,” he said.
Osmeña said he is also supporting Gullas’ road-widening project because it will benefit the SRP and serve as an extension of the Cebu South Coastal Road.
“And so I said why not (give it to him instead)?” the congressman said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 23, 2012.