CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has criticized Crisologo Saavedra after the businessman asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to investigate the mayor for endorsing a “sweetheart deal” with a private firm to develop an P18-billion resort and casino complex on Kawit Island in the South Road Properties (SRP).
“Kulang sa pansin (Saavedra lacks attention),” Osmeña said when asked about the matter.
Osmeña said that if the track record of Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI), a Gokongwei-led firm, was the concern of Saavedra, he should also file cases against the proponent of the Cebu-Cordova Expressway (CCLEX) or the third bridge project.
“Manny Pangilinan also has no experience building a bridge so why doesn’t Saavedra complain?” Osmeña said.
The Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC), the firm which manages the CCLEX, is a subsidiary company of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., which is owned by Pangilinan.
Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña agreed with the stand of the mayor, saying big companies that undertake major projects usually create a separate and an independent corporation for it.
The councilor said the proposed joint venture agreement (JVA) between the City and UHRI is in compliance with City Ordinance (CO) 2154.
CO 2154, which the City Council passed in 2008, sets guidelines and procedures for the City Government in entering into a JVA with private entities.
Councilor Osmeña was part of the five-member ad hoc committee that scrutinized the JVA along with Councilor Renato Osmeña Jr. as chairman and Councilors Sisinio Andales, Jose Daluz III and Raymond Garcia as members.
UHRI, the property development arm of JG Summit Inc., proposed to develop “Isla de la Victoria” that will consist of 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.
Osmeña explained that Robinsons Land, which is the arm of JG Summit Inc. for property development, is a publicly-listed company whose articles of incorporation do not allow it to engage in gaming operations.
Although they can choose to amend their articles, Osmeña said they are also aware that the public buy their stock because of their “wholesome” business image.
“Amending the articles is not a wise alternative. On the contrary, creating a new corporation that is dedicated to gaming is not only the correct strategy, it is also an industry practice. It is what SM, Megaworld and Razon did,” he said.
Osmeña said the financial resources that UHRI needed to grow the new corporation are assured by the Gokongwei family.