Hotel sues Cebu City Government

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Friday, March 28, 2014


CEBU CITY -- Waterfront Cebu City Casino Hotel Inc. filed a civil case for certiorari and prohibition, among others, against the Cebu City Government regarding the sale of a 2,357-square-meter property in Lahug.

The subject lot sits adjacent to the Waterfront Hotel.

Waterfront also applied for a temporary restraining order (TRO) so that the sale will not be consummated.

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While the winning bidder, Hotel of Asia Inc., already paid a down payment representing 50 percent of the purchase price, the deal has not been sealed because the Cebu City Council is yet to authorize Mayor Michael Rama to sign the contract.

Named defendants of the case are the Cebu City Government through Mayor Michael Rama, the committee on awards represented by Attorney V Jose Daluz III, the City Council through its presiding officer Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and Hotel of Asia.

“Are they going to pay double?” Rama told reporters in a press conference last Thursday on why Waterfront continues to object to the sale of the lot.

“If they want to stop the sale, then are they willing to pay P60,000 per square meter? Are they going to pay back Hotel of Asia? Nagsamok-samok lang sila sa syudad (They’re making trouble for the Cebu City Government),” Rama said.

Hotel of Asia, in its winning bid, offered to buy the property at P35,500 per square meter or about P83.7 million.

Vice Mayor Labella was surprised why the Council was included in the civil case.

“I have serious doubts if it is proper for them to implead the Council. We have been prudent and cautious by submitting this matter to the committee on laws for report,” said Labella.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 9 Judge Alexander Acosta scheduled the hearing for the application for a restraining order this Monday, March 31.

Labella is contemplating on attending the hearing on behalf of the Council.

The City Legal Office will represent the Cebu City Government.

The resolution to authorize the mayor to sign the contract with Hotel of Asia has been deferred by the Council twice and was referred to the committee on laws, ordinances, public accountability and good government for report.

Waterfront Group Chief Engr. Vincent Lazaro asked the City Government to provide Waterfront with photocopies of the documents covering the bidding for Lot 917, which is the subject lot.

“I understand that these are public documents involving a transaction over a government property, thus, such documents pertain to an official transaction and contain information of public concern,” Lazaro’s letter read.

The Council then required the committee on awards to submit the bidding documents.

There was confusion during the regular session last Friday when the proponent, Councilor Gerardo Carillo, submitted for the second time the resolution authorizing Rama to enter into and sign the deed of absolute sale and the deed of conditional sale for Lot 917.

Carillo said the approval of the resolution would be for the conditional deed of sale, but Councilor Sisinio Andales said there was already an agreement that the approval would depend on the result of the committee report.

Andales rendered a committee report for the City to check any lien on the title of Lot 917 to protect its interest.

Aside from the civil case, Waterfront also formally sent the Council communication objecting to the sale of the property to Hotel of Asia.

Rama expects that this will be a long drawn-out battle.

“It’s going to be delayed. We could have immediately given Capitol a part of it,” said Rama in Bisaya.

Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III wrote Rama asking for about 50 percent of the proceeds of the sale of Lot 917, which was originally owned by the Province.

Rama did not commit to the 50 percent but said the City has kept helping the Capitol in its rehabilitation program in northern Cebu.

The mayor said the City has a lot of potential if only there are no obstructions.

Rama mentioned the sale of Lot 917 and the sale of the South Road Properties, particularly if the remaining pond will be filled up. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 29, 2014.

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