PB’s push to sell CICC-A A +A
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
HERE we go again. After Rep. Tomas Osmeña’s wayward call to sell an important Cebu City facility, the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), here comes the Provincial Board (PB) with its own ludicrous push for the sale of an important Capitol facility, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), to Mandaue City so it would be converted into a City Hall.
The Osmeña lobby, made when he was Cebu City mayor, was later exposed as inane following successful efforts by Mayor Michael Rama to improve CCMC’s look and operation. You do not sell a facility that gives important service to constituents just because it is mismanaged. You’d be like a husband seeking a divorce each time he quarrels with his wife. Rather, you find the root of the problem and creatively deal with it.
In the case of the CICC, the PB is using as reason the supposed high maintenance cost of the facility to prod Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale to sell it to Mandaue City. Of course, it is just a front. When it is PB Member Arleigh Sitoy initiating something nowadays, rest assured that gaining political advantage is the motive. CICC was built and run by the administration of now suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, a political rival.
Sitoy is the same PB member whom his colleagues didn’t take seriously when he was the lone minority in the legislative body. Didn’t he sponsor a measure seeking to put a negative label on packs of his once favorite chicharon, which he considers as cause of the stroke he suffered? Now that he has become a Liberal Party (LP) top gun in Cebu, his words are already taken as gospel.
The wonder is that Sitoy’s resolution was passed on mass motion, meaning that nobody objected to it. Have the other PB members, some of whom are former Garcia partymates and therefore didn’t raise a howl when the CICC was conceived and managed, lost their sense of objectivity and perspective? Or am I wrong to think they have these in the first place?
To weigh the importance of the CICC based solely on maintenance cost is much too simplistic, and that is not flattering to PB members whose minds are expected to go deeper. Indeed, the benefits to the Cebu economy of the CICC hosting major local, national and international events go beyond mere rental or payment of electricity bills.
Jose Yulo, chairman of the Philippine Exhibits and Theme Parks Corp. (Petco), has, for example, cited 2007 estimates that a foreign guest attending a convention spends at least P10,000 a day for hotel accommodation, food and beverage and shopping. I don’t know why in assessing CICC’s use, PB members didn’t factor this in by checking the number of major events lured partly by the presence of the CICC here.
The offer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to help develop the CICC into a truly world class facility is a recognition of the structure’s importance. Talks of the country hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit included a possible role of Cebu in it, with the CICC being considered as one of the venues.
Incidentally, Sitoy is proposing to sell the CICC, constructed at a cost of more than P1 billion, to Mandaue City (owner of the lot the facility is in), at a bargain price. He wants to ingratiate himself to Mandaue voters, which is part of the sixth district he is representing.
But will the constituents of the province allow CICC’s sale at bargain price? As for Mandaue City, will it be willing to shoulder the cost of purchasing the structure and then spending more to transform it into a City Hall? Wouldn’t building a totally new City Hall be better?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2013.