SRP project: deal or no deal?

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


A JAPAN-BASED company has showed interest to put up a retirement facility for Japanese retirees at the South Road Properties (SRP). I-Land Way Phils. Inc. President Kazuhito Matsuda presented this proposal last Tuesday to City Hall officials.

The company wants to lease about 1.2 hectares at the SRP for Japanese retirees. It plans to invest P1.41 billion for three buildings with a total of 885 units that can house 1,125 individuals. It proposed to lease the property at $.50 per square meter every month.

Matsuda believes that the project will benefit the Cebuanos in terms of labor opportunities and economic activities. If the project pushes through, construction will commence next year and will be completed in 2019.

Aside of this, many Manila-based real estate developers like Megaworld, which is developing a multi-billion-peso resort and high-rise buildings in Lapu-Lapu City, showed interest in investing at the SRP. The College Assurance Plan (CAP), though it experienced financial woes in its college educational plan a few years ago, is also interested in buying lots at the SRP.

We know that the SRP has become the political battleground between Mayor Michael Rama and former mayor Tomas Osmeña. As far as Tomas is concerned, he won’t allow Rama to dispose even a square meter of land in his “pet project,” which cost the Cebuano taxpayers billions of pesos through a loan obligation with the Japanese Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC).

Tomas considers the SRP as his personal property. Anybody who wants to poke his finger into it will have to deal with him.

Imagine, there is already that national law that mandates that any agreement between a local government unit and a private entity should be approved by the legislative body.

Yet, Tomas minions in the city council still passed an ordinance that reiterated it.

This is to ensure that Rama's hands will be handcuffed and he can no longer touch the SRP.

That ordinance still exists because members of Tomas’s Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), which dominates the council, refuse to lift it.

The lifting of that ordinance was subject of a public hearing late last year. Tomas said that ordinance should not be lifted to prevent any mayor from indiscriminately disposing of SRP lots.

He argued that it’s not yet time to dispose of the said lots because the price is too low. The city, he added, should wait until SM Prime Holdings and Filinvest fully develops their respective areas. By then, the prices in the adjacent lots will already increase.

Tomas is really a wise guy. Wait for SM and Filinvest to develop, or wait for his comeback at City Hall?

Though SRP is his brain child, we know for a fact that he has a personal and business interest in it. Why wait for the two big companies to develop their respective areas when the city can sell some portions even at a lower price?

It can already generate revenues once the land title is transferred. And even if the buyers will not yet develop the area, they will already be paying real estate and property taxes. Isn't it additional income for the city's coffers?

More benefits will come if they will develop the area, as job opportunities will come in. That is very a simple logic.

Now, reports say that some BOPK councilors are favoring the terms of reference in the I-Land Way proposal. Well and good. But their full support for the project remains to be seen. I am afraid that they will still be asked by Tomas to junk the project once it reaches the council for approval. If that happens, these politicians should be condemned because they are not for development. They are just serving the interest of their political master.

If some of these councilors are reelectionists in 2016, they should be junked because they are political robots.

So, deal or no deal?

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 01, 2014.

Opinion

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