ONE down, one to go.
The Provincial Board (PB) yesterday authorized Gov. Hilario Davide III to negotiate with Cebu City on an exchange of land that will help solve homelessness in the city and a collection problem for the Capitol.
It will be the Cebu City Council’s turn today to discuss the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that Davide and Mayor Tomas Osmeña signed last week.
Based on the MOA, the Province will give the City 32 hectares of occupied lots, spread across several barangays. It will also hand over 1.5 hectares in the Department of Agriculture compound along M. Velez; 2,358 square meters (sq.m.) along Gorordo Ave. in Barangay Lahug; and 577 sq.m. along Don Gil Garcia St. in Capitol Site.
In exchange, the City will offer to the Province 2.5 hectares in the South Road Properties (SRP); a 3.3-hectare block behind SM City in Barangay Mabolo; 9 hectares in Barangay Pulpogan, Consolacion; the 13,711 sq.m. septage treatment plant lot; and the 2.476 sq.m. City Abattoir.
The PB approved a resolution that pointed out the proposed exchange is consistent with the law and morals, and is not disadvantageous to either the City or Province.
PB Member Jude Sybico, seconded by PB Member Celestino Martinez III, sponsored the resolution. It cited the state policy of pursuing urban development and decent housing, as spelled out under the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.
Section 39 of that law “charges local government units to implement” the policy, the approved resolution stated.
In his press conference, Osmeña said he expected the council to approve the MOA.
“The pressure on the other side (the Team Rama-dominated council) is very strong because I’ve said that if they will not approve it, I’ll ask for a special election. That’s why they’re very quiet and I think they’ll approve (the MOA) out of fear. That’s the only language they understand, so let them try,” he told reporters in his news conference.
Osmeña pointed out that while the agreement is referred to as a land swap, there will be no money involved.
“We lose sight of the fact that we can give the Province (a property) without swapping anything. And the Province can give us without swapping anything. They don’t have to pay us, not even one centavo,” he said.
Under a 1993 ordinance, the Province had given occupants of some of its lands the chance to buy their home lots. But most of the occupants failed to pay in full. As the occupants are constituents of City Hall, it would make sense to transfer these lots to the City for its socialized housing program, the resolution pointed out.
In exchange, the City will “provide assistance to the Province by way of donating properties owned by the City for the Province’s public use.”
Osmeña, in his news conference, lamented that former mayor Michael Rama gave City-owned lots to the Department of Public Works and Highways and the University of the Philippines Cebu Campus without qualms, but objected to granting the lots to the 93-1 settlers.
“Now, he’s put in a ridiculous situation and he can’t repeat the same words ‘nga alkansi ang syudad’ (that the City would be placed at a disadvantage). But I’m very happy to know that there are other considerations besides 93-1,” he said.
Osmeña said that Team Rama councilors would face the “wrath” of residents in Barangays Guadalupe, Lahug and Capitol Site should they decide not to recommend proceeding with the land exchange agreement.
The land swap grants a hectare each for Guadalupe and Lahug, which they can use to expand their elementary schools.
This will also include a 500 sq.m. provincial property near Robinsons Cybergate Mall, which Capitol Site can use to relocate their barangay hall, which is currently in the mountain area of Oprra.
“I’m very happy that I’ve something to report on Charter Day. This is one of the biggest accomplishments in my administration, addressing the congestion in two schools in two big barangays,” Osmeña said.
The MOA has been referred to the ad hoc committee for review. The committee met last week with representatives of the 11 barangays where the Province-owned lots are located.
During their consultations held last Dec. 15 and 16, Councilor Jose Daluz III said that the committee explained to the 93-1 occupants all the provisions under the MOA.
The settlers then asked that an affordable rate be offered to them so they can finally own the lots they are occupying.
Of the 4,364 home lots covered under Provincial Ordinance 93-1, only 1,445 have been paid for in full and 1,188 have been partially paid. A total of 1,731 lots were not paid for at all.
The beneficiaries of the lots were given two years to pay for the property when the ordinance was approved in 1993.
A 10-year extension was granted to them, but the period lapsed in 2004.