Let Mandaue City manage CICC

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


THE Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) has remained unrepaired after it was partially damaged by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu in October last year. It needs P160 million for repair and upgrading.

No matter how one would look at it, CICC is a landmark in Mandaue City and the province. Mandaue City owns the lot where CICC is erected. It is the first government-owned convention center outside of Manila.

However, the administration of Gov. Junjun Davide has no intention of shouldering the cost of the repair. Neither has the province the desire to continue to operate this facility.

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The Davide administration even virtually branded the CICC as a white elephant because it was operating at a loss before the earthquake damaged it.

The CICC was constructed during the time of former governor Gwen Garcia, now Cebu’s third district representative, in time for the 12th Asean Summit in January 2007. Some of the summit’s conferences were held in Cebu.

The Philippine government, which will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), has eyed CICC as one of the venues for the meeting next year. The Cebu Archdiocese will host the International Eucharistic Congress here and CICC is being considered as possible venue.

During the construction and after the completion of CICC, Garcia was accused by her political adversaries of making money out of the project. As a consequence, charges were filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

But it would not look good for the Davide administration to leave this important edifice idle just because its construction was shrouded with controversies and that graft charges against the former governor are pending before the Ombudsman.

Governor Davide has offered to sell CICC to Mandaue City, being the owner of the lot, after his meeting with CICC management board last week. But what is Capitol’s price? And, will Mandaue City buy CICC at Capitol’s price?

Granting that the Mandaue City Government would buy CICC, two things come to mind on what it would do to the facility. First, convert it into its City Hall. Second, continue to operate the CICC as convention venue.

Mayor Jonas Cortes proposed last year to build a high-rise building that would house the offices of City Hall in a lot at the burnt city market. Perhaps because of superstitious belief, the project has been put on hold while the city is looking for a better location.

That the CICC is not making money could be due to mismanagement. Since the Davide administration has no intention of running CICC, so it might as well ask Mandaue City to operate it instead of leaving the facility idle.

I’m positive Mayor Cortes and the other city officials would be more than happy and willing to operate CICC. Mandaue City has so many professionals and talents who can competently manage the facility and put it to better use.

If not, the province could explore the possibility of a public-private partnership to operate and manage CICC. I am sure that there are competent private firms with better experience and that can run CICC professionally.

On the other hand, I don’t think Mandaue City would buy CICC and convert it into its city hall. The building was designed as a convention center. If converted, it would lose its significance as the first government-owned convention center in the south.

With the forthcoming international events, there is a big possibility that convention organizers would exclude Cebu as venue if CICC is not repaired and upgraded sooner than expected.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 03, 2014.

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