SO Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has won? He may have or he may have not.
The news that Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI) wants to rescind the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots did not surprise many. It was expected. Filinvest is one of the buyers of the South Road Properties (SRP) lots following a bidding held during the time of former mayor Mike Rama.
It’s public knowledge that the owners of Filinvest are family friends of Mayor Osmeña. Like what the song said, “that’s what friends are for.” Sought for comment, Councilor Joey Daluz said, “Whatever excuses they (Filinvest) may say, we all know the story. They succumbed to pressure from the executive. That’s the real scenario.”
Filinvest decided to rescind the sale allegedly because Cebu City failed to provide the titles to the parcels of lots that they bought in that bidding. Tristan Las Marias, FLI senior vice president for the Visayas and Mindanao, personally went to City Hall.
The other winning bidder in the SRP lots sale that Mayor Osmeña, who was then a private citizen, strongly objected to is the consortium of SM and Ayala. Tomas somehow felt affronted that Filinvest, SM and Ayala proceeded to participate in the bidding even after he warned them not to.
Mayor Osmeña, to fulfill his promise to get back the SRP lots, began by questioning the income of a Banco de Oro (BDO) branch in Cebu City. The BDO banks are owned by the Sy family that owns SM. He refused to issue business permits to BDO and the SM stores, a move that many consider as harassment. He sued BDO in court and threatened to close the banks.
What is the mayor up to in harassing SM and BDO? Of the three establishments-–Ayala, SM and Filinvest-–he singled out SM and its sister companies.
While Mayor Tomas is after SM and BDO, the dire consequences of the move is that thousands of employees of SM City Cebu, SM Seaside and BDO could be affected. Can the city provide employment to those who would be displaced by the eventuality?
Aside from the employees of SM and BDO, the employees of the tenants of SM stores would also be affected. If this happens, a businessman described it as “economic disaster” for Cebu City.
I suppose it would the least of the worryies for the management or owners of SM should Mayor Tomas closes their establishments in Cebu City. The SM Group has stores and BDO branches all over the country and even abroad.
But the implication of the city mayor’s move against SM and BDO is chilling to would be investors in Cebu City. It leaves the impression that the city’s leader is only friendly to businesses that abide by his wishes.
Meanwhile, a friend asked: Why is it that Ayala is not included in the city mayor’s bluster? Anyone’s guess is as good as mine.