THE Provincial Board (PB) yesterday approved the resolution that authorizes Gov. Hilario Davide III to sign the amended build-transfer-operate (BTO) agreement with Fifth Avenue Development Corp. to continue the proposed Ciudad project in Barangay Apas, Cebu City.

The PB also “gave express consent to the assignment of certain rights and benefits” to Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) as a third party.

PB Member Peter John Calderon, author of the resolution, said the Province signed a memorandum of agreement with Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corp. to open access points connecting Cebu IT Park to Gov. Manuel Cuenco Ave (previously known as Banilad Road).

Public space

“With that grant of access, there was a communication from Fifth Avenue to the Capitol indicating their interest to continue the BTO... The amended BTO already provides for the consent of Fifth Avenue for the road right-of-way access,” Calderon said during the session.

In the amended BTO, Fifth Avenue agreed to allocate 2,000 square meters to be used as a park and open space.

Calderon said it is also indicated in the agreement that Fifth Avenue will pay the real property taxes instead of the Province, which was in the previous BTO agreement.

Fifth Avenue entered into a memorandum of understanding with FLI, which would finance the development of the Ciudad property, as well as act as its “exclusive marketing, operation and management arm.”

Capitol’s share

Once operational, Capitol will get .55 percent of Ciudad’s monthly gross sales, or P200,000, whichever is higher.

With FLI’s Cyberzone, Capitol gets a monthly two-percent of gross sales or P500,000, whichever is higher.

Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said the rate is part of the contract made by the previous administration.

“Why would there be two rates when we’re only dealing with one entity? That’s what worried us,” said Magpale in Cebuano.

Magpale said they merely inherited this from the previous administration, since the bidding was done in 2006.

Winning bidder Michael Lloyd Dino, Fifth Avenue’s executive vice president, signed the contract with then Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

“If we don’t honor the contract, the Province will be sued,” Magpale said in Cebuano.

Since the contract was not ratified by the PB then, board members are now correcting it.

Positive reception

Magpale said their lawyers are looking into whether the Province can continue with the terms of reference considering a new partner (Filinvest) is coming in.

However, she said there are changes in the new contract that are agreeable to Fifth Avenue.

In a separate interview, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman said he was happy with the new development.

“Finally, the project will push through. I can’t forget this project because it caused my spat with former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña,” Ayuman said.

Ayuman said he believes the Ciudad project will generate jobs, especially for Apas residents, and promote Cebu’s historical sites.

Calderon said there is still a problem with informal settlers in the area.

He also hopes the tree-cutting permit will finally be settled.

The Cebu City Hall, under the administration of Mayor Michael Rama, gave the project a locational clearance to proceed in 2011 yet. But in 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources denied the project’s application for an environmental compliance certificate because its proponents were not able to secure a tree-cutting permit.