THREE major projects of outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña will get a reversal or refinement when Mayor-elect Edgardo Labella assumes office on June 30.
These are the P18-billion contract for the development of Kawit Island, the contract of sale between the City Government and Filinvest Land Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land and the lifting of Executive Order (EO) 34 on the counterflow policy.
Labella, who is set to assume office on June 30, intends to renegotiate the contract of the City with Universal Hotel and Resorts Inc. (UHRI) because he finds it “disadvantageous to the city.”
UHRI is the developer of Isla dela Victoria, an integrated resort, including a casino, on Kawit Island in the South Road Properties and one of Mayor Osmeña’s pet projects. A joint venture agreement (JVA) was signed by the City with UHRI.
Under the JVA, the City will only get 10 percent of the annual rental revenue eight years after signing of the agreement.
Labella said he is not “totally against it” but emphasized the need to review the contract because he considers it “onerous.”
“Naa na man na (It’s already there) so we just have to renegotiate it so that the City will have a fair share and the City will not be at a total disadvantage,” Labella said.
However, Labella did not elaborate what changes he wants to infuse in the JVA. But months before the JVA signing, the opposition camp wanted a straight lease for every square meter of the 10-hectare property.
He added he will disclose details of the planned renegotiation once he assumes work a day after his inauguration on June 30.
Labella also added the contract entered into by the City with Filinvest Land Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land which bought the 45.5 hectare property at the South Road Properties in 2015 will be honored.
Ayala Land and SM Prime Holdings, through a consortium, bought 26.3 hectares while FLI bought 19.2 hectares.
Labella said there is no reason to invalidate the sale when the court thru a judgment issued by Judge Alexander Acosta of Regional Trial Court Branch 18 on November 2018 said that the sale was legal.
This is contrary to Osmeña’s position to nullify the sale in 2015 during the time of then mayor Michael Rama, who incidentally will be returning to public service as vice mayor. Rama lost to Osmeña in the 2016 local elections.
As it is, Osmeña accused the Rama administration of underpricing the sale claiming the property can be sold at P110,00 per square meter. The 46.2 hectares were sold at P38,000 per square meter which was double the price set by the Commission on Audit.
Early this year, Osmeña allowed public biddings of a three-hectare property at the SRP for P110,000 but there were no takers.
For his part, Labella said the sale will remain valid as the City already received P8.7 billion as down payment in 2015.
In 2016, the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO), through direct orders from Osmeña, did not accept the P3 billion installment of the three developers.
On August 2, 2017, Ayala and SM wanted to pay for the second installment but the CTO refused the payment.
Based on the deed of sale, had Osmeña accepted the payments from the developers, the City would have collected P16.7 billion already.
At the time, Osmeña insisted that the sale was invalid on the premise that a resolution cannot overpower an ordinance which is needed for the sale of the SRP lot.
But Acosta said the resolution passed by the council was not contrary to the ordinance.
Lift EO 34
Labella also intends to lift EO 34 issued by Osmeña last year, which impounds motorcycles and vehicles for 30 days, calling this “anti-poor.”
“That EO 34 is anti-poor and depriving the poor man of his income because if you impound the vehicles for 30 days wala intawon siyay pangita ug labing maayo sundon ang balaod nga nalatid sa traffic code sa pagpahamtang og silot,” Labella said. (They will have no income. The best thing to do is follow the law stated in the traffic code in regard to penalties.)
He said he will create another EO which will penalize motorists who counterflow based on the Cebu City Traffic Code.
Under the traffic code, a violator will be issued a citation ticket or a temporary operator’s permit (TOP) with a penalty of not less than P1,000.
“We will impose efficiently, effectively the law against counterflowing because it is a clear violation of law,” Labella added.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Royina Garma is hopeful the new administration will help look for available lots for the city’s police stations.
She mentioned stations 7, 5, 10 and 11 that need a place to be built because they’re situated in “squatter areas” and are “pitiful.”
According to her, out of the 11 city police stations in Cebu, only the Waterfront Police (Station 2) follows, at least, the standard design for a police station.
A local police officer, who requested not to be named, said a standard police station must be at least 400 square meters or more in area and with first to third floors in composition.
“Kay ang third floor, supposedly kay barracks bitaw sa mga police. Adto sila mga tulog, magpahuway, adto didto ang kusina,” he said. (From PAC of SuperBalita Cebu, WBS)