Eviction notice for BOC-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
AN AGENCY tasked with raising money for the National Government has less than 60 days to vacate a building where it had been transacting official business inside the Cebu Port Authority (CPA).
The Bureau of Customs has been occupying the building at Pier 6 inside the CPA premises since 2005 when then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo converted the old customs building beside the Plaza Independencia into the Malacañang sa Sugbo.
The conversion was supposedly a symbol that Cebu would be given special attention by the previous administration as reward for the huge lead Cebuanos gave Arroyo in 2004.
Under the P-Noy Administration, however, the CPA has expressed interest in getting back the property it lent to the BOC. While local customs officials led by District Collector Ronnie Silvestre have been asking to return to the old BOC building, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama had other plans and blocked the move.
With the recent 60-day notice, I think BOC Cebu’s fate rests on President Noynoy Aquino. After news about the notice spread through the customs grapevine, some employees are joking about putting up tents at nearby malls.
Did Mayor Rama sign the ordinance that he swore he would veto? Or was he a victim of some sinister operation that is yet investigating? Whatever. The mayor has not yet redeemed himself of the perception. As it is, Mayor Rama seems to have shot himself in the foot.
While Cebu City leaders are locked in battle that could paralyze operations if the conflict gets out of hand, the disaster that hit Metro Manila might just happen in Cebu City. For several decades now, downtown Cebu City roads become rivers during heavy rains. I could still remember having been stranded at the vicinity of SM City because of several hours of heavy rains and the Mahiga Creek overflowed.
And what would happen if a typhoon or even the so-called Habagat bring two or three days of heavy rains? The thought of suffering what Metro Manila underwent last week is alarming.
Merely cleaning our antiquated drainage systems won’t do. The giant culverts installed below the junction of Sanciangko and Junquera Streets have simply been not enough for several years now. When it rains, that canal simply overflows. The canal is connected to the creek below department stores on Colon St. Nobody knows how to clean that stretch of the creek because no heavy equipment can fit in. We need to demolish the buildings but no mayor will dare. Going after shanties is better than going after buildings owned by the rich and powerful.
But then, our city’s leaders are alarmed more by what the other side is doing in the race towards 2013.
A Camotes town official earlier articulated this concern but it seems a congressional wannabe in the city’s south district has taken the initiative of doing something by cleaning the Guadalupe River in celebration of International Youth Day.
Cleanup projects should reduce the possibility of seeing several tons of trash brought back by floods just like what happened at the National Capital Region.
Nevertheless, political conflicts have also its positive side. Some media quarters, for example, are now talking about how the city’s scholarship funds are being allocated. Team Rama allies are questioning why BOPK Councilor Bebot Abellanosa, who owns the Asian College of Technology (ACT), is involved in deciding what school benefits most from the city scholarship project. Inyong pagngan sa gripo si Bebot, Mayor Rama?
I also expect some student leaders to release soon a report on a recent student leaders’ dialogue. Among the issues discussed was the high miscellaneous fees imposed by ACT while facilities remain inadequate. Perhaps, this is an example of political economy.
Political pundits, one Cebu mayor said, should look into the reality that several mayors in the Province of Cebu have no strong opposition. Will this play into the hands of the Garcias and make PJ a governor? Or will this situation benefit Junjun?
Our poor showing at the London Olympics tells us that basic unsolved problems plague Philippine sports. But our sports leaders simple cannot see eye to eye with other sports stakeholders. I think getting Philippines sports leaders to do their acts well is the challenge.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2012.