MAYOR Tomas Osmeña wants to rescind the sale by Cebu City of some South Road Properties (SRP) lots to Filinvest Land Inc. and the consortium of Ayala Landholdings Inc., Cebu Holdings Inc. and SM Prime Holdings Inc. last year when Michael Rama was the mayor. Much of his argument for rescinding the sale have been inadequate, that is apparently the reason why the move has not gained traction. The sale, done after a public bidding, was at first blush a legitimate and legal deal.

The mayor described the sale as “highly dubious, if not corrupt,” but has failed to substantiate the claim beyond insinuating that the winning bidders monopolized the bidding and thus dictated the price of the lots involved. And instead of going to court, he is playing the pressure card, using public opinion and other means. He is even suggesting the holding of a referendum instead of having a neutral body, the court, to resolve the issue.

Osmeña’s latest statement can therefore be taken within this context. Reeling from the criticisms of his treatment of scholars who were driven away from the City-owned building were they were staying, he talked about raising the scholarship fund at P50,000 per student or five times the current amount given to the City’s scholars--but only after he successfully revokes the SRP lots' sale.

“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. Mike Rama already sold everything there. I'm trying to rebuild our resources so that we can help the poor,” he told reporters.

But his “scholarship is important to me” claim becomes empty if his real motivation is actually to win over the scholars and their family to his plan to recover the sold SRP lots—which is what one would get from his statement. It is not the jacking up of the scholarship fund he is after but the revocation of the sale done by his predecessor and bitter political rival.