IT'S not only Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino who has expressed concern over the possible fallout in the effort by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to recover the South Road Properties (SRP) lots sold to the SM Prime Holdings Inc.-Ayala Land Inc. consortium and to Filinvest Land Inc. The effort has already resulted in Filinvest deciding to rescind its purchase of the lots.
Consider what business leaders said also:
“We hope that the issue regarding the SRP transactions with Cebu City will be settled soon,” said Melanie Ng of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Business is also about perception,” Glenn Anthony Soco of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry noted. “It concerns any businessman or investor if there is uncertainty and volatility in the political and business landscape.” Gordon Alan Joseph of the Cebu Business Club added: “It is better for the private sector and the Cebu City Government to work together to resolve the issues involved.”
The concern did not solely stem from Filinvest giving in to Osmeña’s demand but the recent actions of the mayor put together, notably the suits he filed against SM Seaside City and an SM Group affiliate, Banco de Oro, and his refusal to issue business permits to the said bank. While the mayor has insisted he is merely “anti-corruption,” his moves are not consistent with that claim.
Which is why the concern by Dino and business leaders is not misplaced. As Soco correctly noted, investors want certainty and stability, which could not be attained in a politically charged setup like the one now prevailing in Cebu City. Osmeña may not say it but people see politics in the manner he is going after the sale of SRP lots that was consummated when his political rival Michael Rama was mayor.
This setup may not necessarily “scare” foreign and local investors, but it would be enough for them to pause and mull their options. Why would they invest in a place with a volatile and politically charged setup when there are other areas in Cebu and the Visayas that are less problematic?