THE launching of the South Road Properties (SRP) two days before the elections last May was not a partisan activity meant to advance the administration party’s political campaign, former Cebu City administrator Francisco Fernandez said.

The Office of Ombudsman-Visayas started its investigation on the complaint filed against former mayor now Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district), for spending more than P1 million for the launching of the 290-hectare lot.

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In an interview yesterday, Fernandez said it was Filinvest Land Inc., the first investor in SRP, that originally asked for the launching.

“But it was a long time ago. They needed public relations. They need customers, but more than customers, they need investors,” he said.

“Now, if it was favorable to the candidates of BOPK, the performance at SRP also benefited the BOPK (because the party’s principle) is the best form of governance is good governance and the SRP is a sign of good governance,” he said.

Senior citizens

Many benefited from the reclamation project, including senior citizens, indigents in need of medical attention and students, he said.

Fernandez said he is ready to answer questions regarding the activity.

It will be unfair to drag the current city administrator (Atty. Jose Mari Poblete) into the matter, considering he assumed the post only last July.

“I will assume command responsibility to what happened during the launching. It was nothing irregular. It was not a partisan activity. All the parties were welcome. It was really a launching and everybody was welcome,” he said.

Poblete recently received a letter from the ombudsman, ordering him to certify whether the SRP launching was meant to advance the candidacy of politicians running under the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

Last May 8, two days before the May 10 elections, Osmeña, who chairs the BOPK party, hosted a grand launching of the SRP.

It drew criticisms, particularly from the opposition, saying the activity was a “political gimmickry” using the public’s money.

Osmeña defended the activity, though, and said it was to promote the SRP. He said he decided to launch the SRP during that period as investors were starting to come in.