Divisive politics-A A +A
Thursday, August 9, 2012
MANY months ago, there was a move to swap Cebu City’s north reclamation lot with province-owned lots located in eleven barangays in the city. But politics in our country being the way it is, little things that could be ironed out across a table were blown out of proportion affecting an estimated 3,000 urban poor families.
The Cebu City Council has passed a resolution that gives the city mayor authority to resume the interrupted land swap negotiation. At that time, it was the province that was bent on selling its lots to the occupants, but the occupants could not pay the price because it was way too high for them to afford.
Now, with the initiative taken by the city council at the instance of the city’s urban poor residents, the mayor is faced with the reality of the land swap. Mayor Rama however said that he still has to study the resolution.
During the deliberation, the city council pointed out that the province “is directly negotiating with the urban poor occupants of the province-owned lots, and has given them options of purchase.” Rama, then a vice mayor, said: “I don’t want to make an outright comment on the matter because I still have to read it (the resolution). I don’t want to issue a statement without reading the resolution first.”
In an earlier interview, Rama was reported to have admitted that it was he who “stopped the swapping of Block 27 with the Province. “Had it pushed through, he said, the city would have been placed at a disadvantage, considering that the value of the property was at P500 million…”
Then mayor Tomas Osmena, during a press conference at his house in Barangay Guadalupe the other day, said “that it was also he who suggested to the members of the council to revive the land swap negotiation with Capitol.” He said he will force the mayor to do the land swap. “We are giving him a chance to redeem himself. But if he will not (agree to it) we will change the mayor and we will change the governor so we can do the land swap right away.”
Actually, it was some six years ago when Capitol and the Cebu City Government discussed the land swap proposal. But in the intervening months, the political fortunes of the main players changed. The political options of the players also changed.
Based on the exchange of political views as we have shown from the preceding paragraphs, the way of life of the identified urban poor occupants became the subject of complex play between the city’s contending leaders, with the Province as a side “dish” to the future mayor-returnee of the city.
In the meantime, Mayor Rama is now playing his card close to his chest, hoping to win the game of political division.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2012.