CEBU Gov. Gwen Garcia said now is the right time to renegotiate with Cebu City, with Michael Rama as mayor, on an acceptable solution to the 93-1 issue.

“I am seeing light at the end of a long and dark tunnel and this light I believe can radiate to so many other aspects in the relationship between the Province of Cebu and the City of Cebu, especially when it involves the lives of over 4,000 families who are affected by 93-1,” she said. 

Rama is happy that Garcia is open to negotiations on the land swapping deal, but he said he will first have to consult the city attorney on the matter.

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He said the legal aspect of the aborted deal has to be checked.

“I am checking and I will have to receive guidance from the city attorney, especially since there are legal and technical ramifications. I think there’s litigation involved somehow regarding interwoven issues involving 93-1,” he said.

Not so simple

Garcia said Capitol and City Hall should discuss what to do about residents who have partially paid (for the lots they occupy) and to those who have not paid at all.

With Rama at the City’s helm, Capitol and City Hall can now decide on their own, she said.

“We would be willing to listen to the side of the City of Cebu,” the governor said.

Garcia said the issue on 93-1 is not as simple as what former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña makes it appear to be.

“Whenever he talks about 93-1, he only has one sentence to say, `I can’t turn my back on 4,000 residents that she (Garcia) will evict…’ I have time and again repeated that the issue is not as simple as that,” the governor said.

Different categories

She said the 93-1 residents or families belong to different categories: those who are fully paid, those who have made partial payment and those who have never paid at all. These families, she said, are scattered throughout Cebu City.

She said the Province has started to issue ownership documents to those who have fully paid.

“We are willing to come to the table of understanding and discuss, as well as come up with an acceptable solution to the 93-1 issue,” she said.

From the start, the mayor said he has not wavered on his commitment to give occupants of Province-owned lots in the city a security of tenure.

Rama said he also wants to talk to lot occupants to find out the status of their properties.

“Of course, I am also happy that such a pronouncement and statement came about. It would only mean that the issue, as far as wanting to have it also addressed, has not been led to a closure,” Rama said of Garcia’s pronouncement.

He is set to sit down with City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez to discuss the legal issues surrounding the land swap. 

When asked if he will consult Osmeña, who is now Cebu City south district representative, about the possible second round of negotiations, he said he will listen to the congressman’s comments.

When the Province started proceedings to recover Capitol-owned properties in Cebu City, the City Government, under Osmeña, proposed a land swap to prevent the eviction of occupants.

Falling out

Negotiations, however, did not work and were later aborted after Rama and former councilor Jocelyn Pesquera came out with statements that offended Capitol officials.

Osmeña tried to save the agreement but failed, which resulted in the falling out between the former mayor and the governor.

The aborted deal also caused a rift between Rama and Osmeña, which was later fixed after a thorough discussion by members of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan.  

“We have to remember we are talking about the matter now before the city attorney’s office. We’re all aware it became a party matter at one time. But later if there’s a need, manggawas man gihapon nang reaksyon sa atong congressman who used to be the mayor (Osmeña will surely come out with a reaction), so let’s wait for what he has to say and we assess the situation as it comes,” Rama said.

Consultation with stakeholders

Should Rama decide to renegotiate with the Province on the aborted land swap deal, Osmeña said it will be better for the mayor to consult stakeholders.

Osmeña said city officials should seek the help of former city administrator Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez when consulting with affected parties and conducting negotiation talks.

“Unlike the last time, maybe Mike should just keep shut and take notes and consult stakeholders and the members of the City Council with Bimbo’s help,” he said.

For the former mayor, the governor is just looking for a graceful exit by reviving the negotiations, this time with Rama.

“It was Mike and Pesquera who blocked the land swap. She (Garcia) is looking for a graceful exit. Anyway, it should be Bimbo, who was the point man who negotiated for the City and the occupants,” said Osmeña. (With ETB)