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Thursday, January 24, 2019

City Government scholars might get grant hike if SRP lot sale is revoked

CEBU City Government scholars may expect an increase in their grant if the court revokes the sales of a portion of the South Road Properties (SRP).

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Council has granted the two developers, which won the bidding for that piece of land last year, consent for an endorsement of their 26-ha. mixed-use economic zone.

The City awarded the lot to the consortium of Ayala Land Inc., Cebu Holdings Inc. and SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) last July 21, 2015.

Of the 45.2-ha. lot subjected for bidding, 26 has. were bought by the consortium of Ayala and SM, while 19.2 has. were bought by Filinvest Land Inc.

The deal was closed for P16.76 billion.

Last May, before assuming office, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, calling the transaction “questionable,” announced that he will revoke the sale of the property.

In a news conference last week, Mayor Osmeña told reporters that the City Government is working on rescinding the sales, saying that recovering the land would benefit the scholars.

“Scholarship is very important to me. If we can recover our properties from SM, Filinvest and Ayala, we will eventually jack up our scholarship fund at P50,000 per student. I’m not Santa Claus.

(Former mayor Michael) Mike Rama already sold everything there. I’m trying to rebuild our resources so that we can help the poor,” he said.

Assistance

At present, each scholar is receiving P10,000 in cash assistance from the City Government per school year.

By multiplying the grant by five, the mayor said students, especially those living in mountain barangays, will be able to afford education.

Osmeña said he is eyeing young individuals in the rural villages as college education is more expensive for them.

Aside from the scholarship increase, he said the other option would be to build colleges in the mountain barangays to bring the schools closer to the students whose parents can’t afford their lodging in the urban area.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach City Legal Officer Atty. Joseph Bernaldez, but he was not available as of press time.

“You don’t know the kind of problems the sales have done to us. When Filinvest bought that 20 has., they closed the 60 has. So that 60 has. is baboy (locked). We have nothing left and that sale is illegal,” Osmeña said.

Following this pronouncement, the mayor said he is not for the granting of the endorsement the consortium is requesting from the Council.

Requirement

In a letter to Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, dated Sept. 5, ALI, CHI and SMPHI asked the City to issue the endorsement, which is a requirement for their registration with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza).

Osmeña said approving the endorsement would result in two forms of abuse from the consortium.

First, they are not exporters and, second, the anomaly at the moment is that granting the Peza without parking requirements would affect the roads, similar to the current situation at the Information Technology (IT) park in Barangay Lahug, he said.

Although the Council has approved the consortium’s request, he said he has yet to decide if he will veto the matter.

During a regular session two weeks ago, eight councilors voted for the issuance of the endorsement, while the other six were against the request.

As a Special Economic Zone, the SRP is a mixed-used economic zone that will house IT, tourism, medical tourism, commercial, institutional, recreational and retirement facilities, and light manufacturing industries, as confirmed in the letter issued by the Ecozone Development Department of Peza last June 22.
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