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Monday, September 16, 2019
CEBU

Malilong: Bizarre to ridiculous

The Other Side

BEFORE I left for Xiamen last Friday, I had to have a pail of water fetched in order to take a bath because there was no water in our bathroom. Yesterday morning, the shower was still dry. Thank you, MCWD for reminding me of my penurious beginnings.

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The bizarre saga involving Lapu-Lapu Rep. Paz Radaza’s insistence to hold office in, and eventual ejection from, the Lapu-Lapu City Hall has just taken a turn for the ridiculous: her barangay captain allies have filed charges against City Mayor Ahong Chan for, among others, oppressing their political patroness.

Come on, guys, you can do better than this. This is no brief for Chan but what else did you expect him to do to satisfy your concept of due process? He notified the congresswoman that he needed the space that she was occupying, secured an opinion from the DILG that he could validly reclaim the office space and waited many more days for Radaza to move out before he finally decided that he had enough.

You don’t even need the law to see why Radaza had to yield to Chan. Just plain common sense. Chan won, Radaza’s husband lost. Haven’t you heard that the winner takes it all?

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The Kawit Island project at the South Road Properties is a good concept and former mayor Tomas Osmeña deserves credit for finding an investor who was willing to spend P18 billion to do it.

The opposition, led by then Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, however felt that the contract that Osmeña signed with the Gokongwei Group was disadvantageous to the city because of the 90-10 sharing scheme in favor of the developer, considering the value of the property that the city threw into the deal. Besides, there were legal questions on whether Kawit Island could be used for gambling purposes under the terms of the agreement that the city signed with the Department of Health which previously owned the island.

Apparently, these legal issues have been put to rest and with Gokongwei agreeing to sweeten the pot, the project to develop Kawit into an entertainment complex is now a go. Labella’s negotiators, led by former councilor Joey Daluz, have convinced the mayor to give the project his imprimatur.

The deal-saver was Gokongwei’s agreement to raise their total investment to P25 billion. Daluz found the increase good enough to erase whatever misgivings they have about the 90-10 sharing which they agreed to maintain. Besides, as I have pointed out in an earlier column, the city not only retains ownership of Kawit island, at the end of the lease period it will also acquire ownership of all the improvements that Gokongwei has introduced.

Moreover, Gokongwei will no longer have the option to reclaim the sea adjoining Kawit. That has been a sore point with Labella before he became mayor because he did not want any reclamation in the area to be undertaken by anyone other than the City Government. Fortunately for everyone, the developer relented.

Labella’s wilingness to honor an improved contract entered into by his predecessor is something that we have not witnessed in the city for some time. It looks like he’s serious about his promise of inclusive governance.

Last month, he shocked his audience in the forum organized by the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce when be bluntly told them that he knew that many of them supported his opponent in the last elections. Then he added that they did not have to worry because he was committed to serving everyone, regardless of who he voted or campaigned for last May. A friend who was in the gathering swore that the collective sigh of relief from the floor was audible.


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