Sunday, August 01, 2021

Nalzaro: Carbon development caught in ‘political crossfire’?


I was tagged on the post by Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanoa (Cebu City south district) on social media about the move of a Carbon vendor‘s association that filed administrative and criminal charges before the Office of the Visayas Ombudsman against Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Vice Mayor Micahel Rama and the city councilors who supported the multibillion-peso Carbon market development with a private contractor, Megawide Construction Corp. (MCC). The vendor’s association is seeking either a suspension, dismissal from service or perpetual disqualification of these allegedly involved officials.

I was informed that the case was filed last week. But I am just wondering why the complainant-association neither called a press conference nor gave copies of their complaint to the mainstream media. It never came out in the local mainstream media. Only my friend, Rico Osmeña, a correspondent of the national broadsheet, The Tribune, wrote about it. I read it online on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Included in the charge, according to the report, is Megawide chairman Edgar Saavedra. The complainant-association, which was not named in the article, accused Labella, Rama and the other city officials and Megawide of graft, grave misconduct, violations of the Build Operate Transfer Law and the local ordinance on Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Megawide for the P5.5-billion project.

The vendor’s representative accused the Cebu City Government of undertaking an “unusual procedure” to approve the JVA with Megawide. It also pointed out that Megawide is non-compliant with the similar land use requirement, proving that it already completed a similar project costing at least 75 percent of its proposal. The vendors added that Megawide failed to comply with the minimum amount of equity needed for the proposed project, the report said.

Is politics behind it? Well, that is the usual conclusion of the public, especially since elections are fast approaching. We cannot avoid the suspicion that this Carbon vendors’ association, whoever is behind this, is being used by the political opponents of the present city administration to scuttle the project. I was informed that the major vendor’s associations composed of legitimate vendors who are earning their daily living at the Carbon market are supportive of the project. In fact, they just signed a “manifesto of support” showing their excitement and eagerness for the development, claiming it will boost their businesses and the city’s economy.

Aside from the concerned vendors, business groups like the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) also expressed their strong support for the development, saying its redevelopment is an essential component of the city’s and its neighboring cities’ economic growth. Small entrepreneurs from other areas are buying their goods at Carbon because vendors there offer low prices.

But despite this effort, we can’t deny that there are people and some quarters who are not in conformity with the project because of their personal and vested interest and for political reason. It is just unfortunate that this multi-billion project has been caught in the city’s political crossfire.

I have been writing about Carbon development in the past issues even though I have not read the entire 72 pages of the memorandum of agreement (MOA). (Even some councilors admitted that they did not read the entire MOA when they approved it). But the way I analyze it, the vital and important provisions of the agreement have been satisfied. Like the security of the legitimate occupants and those earning their daily living there, on the rental of the stalls and the operational aspects of the developed market and the financial packages and revenues to be received by the City Government, which is more than than what the City is earning presently.

If this is the attitude of some of our political leaders here, wanting to block and destroy good projects because of politics, who will invest here? You know legitimate businesses like Megawide don’t want any hassle, especially on legal matters, and they don’t want to invest in an unfriendly environment. Well, we are in a democratic country and everybody is entitled to his opinion. As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said: “That democracy is in danger due to excessive freedom. He also argued that in a system in which everyone has a right to rule, all sorts of selfish people who care nothing for the people but are only motivated by their own personal desires are able to attain power.”

Kanus-a pa man gud diay kita mopalambo? Dili man gyud nato kapugngan ang kalambuan. Ug dili karon, kanus-a man?


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