Cebu province to get millions from ex-resort

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


CEBU CITY – Capitol’s work on the former Balili property is not an attempt to tamper with evidence, but a move that will earn the Cebu province at least P10.8 million next year and up to P850 million in 25 years.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garca discussed this, among other points, in a nearly two-hour presentation about the “restoration” of the former resort in Barangay Tinaan, City of Naga.

Within this month, she said, the Waste Management Inc. will sign an agreement with the Province of Cebu to rent seven hectares of the property for an integrated waste-to-energy (WTE) facility.

But the governor also questioned why her critics failed to listen to her presentation, particularly those who accused the Province of tampering with evidence in a pending case over the Balili lot purchase.

The purchase, made in 2008, drew controversy after it turned out that part of the land, aside from the fishponds, was devoted to mangroves.

Capitol is “restoring” the property by filling up some submerged portions with limestone, but political opponents who are questioning the project are calling it an unauthorized reclamation.

“Paminawa ni akong (Hear my) side,” the governor appealed.

“Wa man sila moari, naa na sa publiko ang paghusgar kinsa kadtong nibarog sa kamatuoran ug kinsa kadtong nagpahipi sa ilang mga gipanday nga mga akusasyon alang sa ilang personal ug pulitikanhong motibo (They did not show up, so it’s up to the public to judge who is telling the truth and who are hiding and making accusations for their personal and political motives),” Garcia told reporters.

She said the WTE facility that will operate on the former resort will generate rent of P30 per square meter per month, with an increase of five percent per year.

By February next year, the contractor will pay the Provincial Government P10.8 million in rent for the project site for one year.

Under the agreement, the WMI can operate for 25 years, after which the property shall become a property of the province.

Total earnings for the Province after 25 years could reach P850.47 million.

Provincial Engineer Adolfo Quiroga was tasked to publish an Invitation to Bid under a build-operate-transfer scheme.

Eco-zone

The governor also announced that the Capitol has applied for classification as a special economic zone and presented a proposed Tinaan eco-zone development plan.

The Capitol purchased the former resort for P98.9 million, about the same amount as its current zonal value.

The governor also pointed out that the Capitol earned from the coal ash of Kepco SPC Power Corp., which was supposed to be dumped in the property.

The Capitol and Kepco signed in 2009 an agreement that made the Province responsible for the disposal of the coal ash produced by the power plant.

The Province then signed an agreement with Apo Cement Corp. (Cemex Philippines) last September, for the latter to use the coal ash as an ingredient for its cement.

Aside from the $1 per ton from Kepco, the Province also earned another P40 per ton from Apo for the disposal of the fly ash.

Governor Garcia reiterated that the site development of the Balili property doesn’t need the Provincial Board’s (PB) approval, since the annual budgets for 2010, 2011 and 2012 included an appropriation for the airport, seaport and other economic enterprises site development program.

No need

Section 346 of the Revised Penal Code states: “Disbursements shall be made in accordance with the ordinance authorizing the annual or supplemental appropriations without the prior approval of the sanggunian concerned.”

Last Friday, Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III, a lawyer, filed a case before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for grave abuse of authority, oppression and grave misconduct against Garcia, for the purchase of the Balili property.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and PB Member Arleigh Sitoy filed another case against the governor for malversation of public funds on the same day.

Asked about Wednesday’s presentation, Magpale said she didn’t think their questions were answered.

“Wala man matubag among pangutana (Our questions were answered). Why was the development done when the property is the subject of several complaints?” said Magpale, in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.

“Since there is a contract, ngano wala mo-agi sa PB (Why did it not get the PB’s approval?)” Magpale asked.

‘Hidden’

Businessman Crisologo Saavedra, who has filed several complaints over transactions of the Province, witnessed the presentation but said he was not satisfied by the explanation.

Neither was Engr. Grecilda Sanchez-Zaballero, the daughter of the late Vice Governor Greg Sanchez.

“Why hide this site development in Balili?” she said after the presentation, adding that if not for Magpale and Sitoy, the public would not have known about the work.

But the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Cebu, Ferdinand Pepito, said he found the governor’s presentation enlightening.

He does not believe a law was violated or that an authority of the PB was needed in spending P27.52 million for the site development, since there was already an item in the budget ordinance intended for it.

“It showed more income and benefit to the Province, so probably there was no disadvantage (in the purchase of the property),” Pepito said.

Zaballero, however, said she wondered why the governor regularly, who seeks full media coverage for all her projects, kept the work on the property in Tinaan, Naga quiet. She later left.

Told about her “walkout”, the governor said: “I really don’t care. I don’t see the others walking out.” (FMG/OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 14, 2012.

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