Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Where’s the buyer, Tom?

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella (SunStar file)

WHERE is the buyer of the three-hectare lot in the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City?

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella wants this question answered, two years after the City Council passed the ordinance allowing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to sell the land, which is worth P110,000 per square meter.

Osmeña is running in the May 13 midterm elections, seeking a new term as mayor while Labella is challenging him.

Labella did not agree with Osmeña’s Facebook post, which branded him as the person who enabled the administration of former mayor Michael Rama to allow “one of the largest tax-evaders in this country to steal P35.4 billion from Cebu City.”

Osmeña was referring to a lot SM, Ayala and Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) purchased in a public bidding. FLI later backed out of the deal, exercising its option to rescind the purchase of the property.

“You underpriced 46 hectares of the SRP at P38,000 per square meter. The value of that land is at least P115,000 per square meter, as proven by another offer to buy (the lot). That is a difference of P77,000 per square meter, and P770 million per hectare. You helped steal P35.4 billion from the Cebuanos,” a portion of Osmeña’s post read.

But Labella said the 46-hectare property was sold for a price double the original amount set by the Commission on Audit. He criticized Osmeña for selling the land where SM Seaside City stands at P8,000 per square meter.

Labella said Osmeña often bragged that the lot in SRP can be sold at P110,000 per square meter, but the incumbent mayor failed to fulfill sell the three-hectare lot for this price to Federal Land Inc, which expressed interest to buy it.

Superbalita Cebu tried to get the side of Osmeña, but he did not answer the calls.

But Assistant City Administrator Veronica Morelos, chairperson of the committee on awards, said there are two interested buyers who have purchased bid documents.

The pre-bid conference will be held on April 10 while the bidding proper will be on April 23.

The largest offer exceeds P110,000 per square meter and has been declared the highest bidder.

Meanwhile, Osmeña is confident of being reelected as mayor.

In a Facebook post, he described Labella’s participation in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City-sponsored debate as the key to his victory.

“Mr. Labella, your runningmate (who still has not agreed to debate!) said the same thing in 2016, and he lost by 35,000 votes. After the people see this debate, you will lose more,” Osmeña said, referring to Rama.

Labella, a former Ombudsman director, said he will let the electorate decide who is fit to run the city.

He said he has gotten used to the mayor’s loud-mouthed nature, adding that the latter predicted his defeat in the vice mayoralty race in the 2013 midterm elections.

Labella won, defeating Osmeña’s close ally, Joy Augustus Young. Rama defeated Osmeña in the same elections. (From PAC of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)


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