Briones: Up in the air

EVERYONE, well, almost everyone will be talking about yesterday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Who lost. Who won. Who pulled an upset. Will Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña finally get a majority in the council so it can authorize him to sign that “unsolicited” P18-billion deal to develop Kawit Island even though Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and his colleagues in the opposition find the proposed joint-venture agreement (JVA) with Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI) “grossly disadvantageous.”

You know, the usual post-poll chitchat.

Thankfully, I’m not everyone.

I mean, what’s it to me if Barug Team Rama maintains its tenuous hold on the council? Or not.

But if it does, UHRI has to come up with something better than a 90-10 revenue-sharing scheme if it wants to set up a commercial and shopping center, a theater for performing arts, a convention center, an integrated resort and gaming facility, three hotels, a theme park, a public art installation and parking facilities at the site.

Right now, it’s offering the City a 10-percent share from the lease of commercial and shopping areas, hotels and the integrated resort, and 15 percent from the casino’s operation.

UHRI will also pay the City P1 million a month as assistance for the administration of the SRP once construction starts.

However, the City will have to wait five to eight years before it can enjoy the spoils to allow the developer to stabilize operations.

“This is not a distant dream. We have been working for this long before it was announced. Everything is already set to begin. As soon as the contract is signed, construction will begin in a month,” Osmeña earlier wrote in a Facebook post.

So it must have rankled that the mayor missed his chance to seal the deal by only one vote.

In a special session last week, eight opposition councilors voted against the passage of a resolution giving Osmeña the go-ahead, while eight administration councilors voted in favor.

Labella, who presides over the council, broke the tie. Unfortunately for Osmeña, he voted against the approval of the resolution.

Labella, a lawyer, said he had no choice since passing the resolution would violate the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But if Osmeña somehow manages to wrestle the majority in the council, then it won’t matter what the vice mayor and his allies are saying about the JVA.

So what if the UHRI does not even qualify to enter into a JVA with the City, considering that an existing city ordinance requires interested locators to have a track record of at least three years and the former is relatively a “new business”?


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