Editorial: Voters may decide Ciudad fate-A A +A
Monday, June 25, 2012
THE clock is ticking for the controversial Ciudad project of the Cebu Provincial Government and Fifth Avenue Development Corp. As days pass without the developer being able to start construction of its mall, time will come when its fate will be decided by next year’s polls.
Rep. Tomas Osmeña has so far succeeding in using Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials in preventing Fifth Avenue from starting work on the project. Ciudad has still to acquire an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), the last remaining requirement for the construction to proceed.
In normal times, the issue used by DENR officials in denying the issuance of an ECC to Fifth Avenue would have been resolved through compromise with the developer. The presence of trees in project sites has not always been an issue in major projects.
It wasn’t much of an issue, for example, when the Cebu South Coastal Road tunnel was constructed, affecting Plaza Independencia’s old trees.
But Ciudad is a project of Capitol in a Capitol lot, and work on it has been given a go-signal by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. For a political rival like Osmeña, allowing work to proceed is a no-no, thus the pressure he exerted on DENR officials not to issue an ECC.
If the DENR continues to stall, it is possible Fifth Avenue couldn’t even start work on the Ciudad project when the campaign period for next year’s elections starts. That means its future would be dependent on the outcome of the said elections.
Fifth Avenue was able to get the needed permits from City Hall for the project only when Rama took over from Osmeña as mayor. The situation ideal for Ciudad is therefore one where Rama is mayor and a party-mate of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will take over the post she will be vacating.
In 2013, the governor’s party, One Cebu, will be fielding her brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia, for governor against the Liberal Party’s Hilario “Jun-jun” Davide III. Davide is a known Osmeña ally. Rama, who is running for reelection, will be challenged by Osmeña.
If Osmeña wins the post of Cebu City mayor, the Ciudad project will be mothballed once more. The same thing happens if Davide wins the gubernatorial post. That’s how tricky, or okay, unfortunate, the situation Ciudad is in now. Its future may end up in the hands of voters.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 26, 2012.