THE Cebu City Council yesterday postponed, for an indefinite period, the proposed ordinance finalizing the list of persons and properties that will be affected by the lot acquisition for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

Councilor Joel Garganera, who sponsored the proposed ordinance, moved to lay it on the table, saying some affected property owners who came to his office because they were not included in the list.

It was supposed to be for final deliberation in yesterday’s council session.

The proposed ordinance is required under Republic Act 10752 or the law on the acquisition of road-right-of-way.

For Councilor Margarita Osmeña, the move was a clear manifestation that Garganera wanted to delay the project.

She said that since the proposed ordinance is required under the law, they will have to find out other ways for the City to comply with the national policy.

Garganera denied that he is delaying the approval of his proposed ordinance. He said that the issue on lot owners’ list should be addressed first.

BRT project manager Rafael Christopher Yap said that he will inquire with the Department of Transportation on the next step to be done about the matter.

Under the proposed ordinance, only properties surveyed before Dec. 31, 2016 are qualified for the compensation.

“The proposed ordinance is an integral part of the implementation of the BRT project because it will prevent people from taking advantage of the land acquisition and resettlement activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Secretary Ernesto Pernia clarified that he can’t put the Cebu BRT project on hold or scrap it, by his own decision to pave the way for a light rail transit (LRT) and subway project.

In a press statement, Neda said all decisions concerning infrastructure projects have to go through collegial discussions to reach a collective decision.

“The ICC Cabinet Committee is composed of nine Cabinet members, while the Neda Board is composed of 22 members, including the President as chairman and the Neda secretary as vice chair. Nevertheless, all decisions made final by the Neda Board are grounded on national and public interest, upon endorsement by the ICC Cabinet Committee,” a portion of the statement reads.

During his visit to Cebu last Aug. 4, Pernia said the BRT project will proceed unless there is an intervention from Malacañang.

But later that day, Pernia issued another statement, after he met Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, saying the implementation of the project may have to wait since there is a feasibility study on a subway and LRT project for Metro Cebu, which is about to be completed.

Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar, meanwhile, said he spoke with Pernia and informed him on the need to pursue the BRT project, and that the government should not choose between BRT and LRT and subway projects.

He said that both projects should be implemented, but BRT should come first since it’s already up for implementation.

Del Mar said that Pernia assured him that his inputs will be taken into consideration. (RVC)