Will Cebu City, Province pursue land swap, joint projects during new term?

OUTGOING Cebu City officials expect a better relationship between Governor-elect Hilario Davide III and reelected Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

A 2006 proposal for the City and Province to exchange some land stands a better chance of getting pursued, they also said.

“Who doesn’t want a good relationship between the Province and the City?” asked Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young.

According to the proposal, Cebu City was supposed to give Block 27 of the North Reclamation Area to the Province, which, in return, will turn over the lots covered under Provincial Ordinance 93-1 to the residents.

The ordinance covers 11 barangays where close to 5,000 families live in Cebu City.

Third-term Cebu City Councilor Jose Daluz III agreed that the 93-1 issue should be resolved once and for all.

He cited as an example the issue of the Lahug Market, which was resolved in Rama’s first term as mayor.

Daluz explained that when Rep. Tomas Osmeña was still mayor, the City wanted to transfer Lahug Market but the available lot belonged to the Province. By then, the chief executives of the two local government units were no longer in good terms.

But during Rama’s administration, which began in 2010, the market was installed at the Province-owned lot, which Daluz described as a “product of cooperation.”

Solutions

Osmeña has blamed the collapse of the land swap proposal on Rama’s 2006 privilege speech questioning the terms of the deal. Rama, who was then vice mayor, had said the City would be placed at a disadvantage if it gave away a clean property in exchange for scattered lots that had yet to be paid for by their occupants.

After bolting from the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) less than year into his term as mayor, Rama explained his stand. He said there might be legal repercussions to giving away a property, which has the potential to be worth a billion pesos, in exchange for the 93-1 properties. The City would have to collect amortization from the residents.

“The point is, we are providing solutions to 5,000 families. How can it not be fair when it is a land swap?” asked Young.

He said that the City Government has even given properties to the University of the Philippines and the Department of Agriculture.

“Where is the logic?” said Young, whose term as vice mayor ends on June 30.

Still on the matter of transitions, Acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale said the Province will have around P300 million in its general fund by the time suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia returns to office after June 19.

Capitol funds

“At least naa siya’y kwarta (The only thing I can say is that at least the Capitol now has funds). When I took over, only P90 million was left, but now the general fund has P300 million plus,” Magpale said.

Magpale attributed the increase to the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), of which the Province gets P150 million every month.

Based on the Provincial Treasurer’s Office records, the IRA for the past four months was P598.42 million, from P533.71 million in the same period last year.

The Provincial Treasurer’s Office also showed that the Capitol’s revenues reached P747.15 million from January to April 2013, from P660 million in the same months last year.

Magpale said the Capitol has managed to pay the bills that were presented with legal basis or proper documents. When she first assumed office as governor, she had called attention to nearly P1 billion in payables.

The payables that were not paid are those whose contracts were signed before the Provincial Board could authorize the transactions.

Turnover

Magpale said the Capitol will pay the P57-million payable for the bulk water supply project of the Province, which should have been paid in August last year.

“Kung mabalik sya (If she will be back) then we will turn this over back to her for the next 11 days. On June 30, the turnover will be to governor-elect Junjun Davide,” Magpale said.

Garcia’s six-month suspension began last Dec. 19 as a penalty for the administrative case filed by the late Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez.

Magpale’s running mate, Hilario Davide III, was elected governor last May 13 with a margin of around 160,000 votes over Rep. Pablo John Garcia.

Governor Garcia, meanwhile, won a first term as congresswoman of the third district, where she will replace her brother. Another brother, Nelson, won a reelection as mayor of Dumanjug.

Neither Governor Garcia nor her daughter and lawyer, Christina Frasco, was available for comment yesterday.
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