IT has been a year since the Cebu City Government and the Cebu Provincial Government closed the 93-1 land swap deal, but what is its current status?

Lawyer Meriam Consuelo Fernandez, head of Cebu City’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), said that they are still waiting for the Commission on Audit (COA) Central Office to give its pre-approval on the exchange of properties.

Fernandez and Capitol lawyer Cristine Ranzo went to Manila last Dec. 1 to submit the documents that needed COA’s approval. It includes the appraisals of the respective local government units’ (LGU) properties and the deed of donation, among others.

“We want everything to be okay once the lots will be transferred. We don’t want that the deal will be disallowed considering that we have to take into account the value of the properties of the two LGUs,” she said.

If there is still no feedback from the state auditors by next month, Fernandez said that the alternative would be to seek other legal remedies and review existing laws.

“We will try to find other ways since the terms under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) are not fixed. It does not only cover land swap. Donation, exchange, and transfer of lots can also be done,” she said.

Asked if there other factors that delayed the land swap deal aside from COA’s approval, the DWUP head said that the number of lots that need to be appraised is another reason.

COA requires all properties subject for exchange, donation and transfer to be appraised first for recording purposes.

Based on the MOA, the Province will give the City 32 hectares of occupied lots, spread across several barangays. It will also hand over 1.5 hectares in the Department of Agriculture compound on M. Velez St.; 2,358 square meters (sq.m.) on Gorordo Ave. in Barangay Lahug; and 577 sq.m. on Don Gil Garcia St. in Barangay Capitol Site.

In exchange, the City will offer to the Province 2.5 hectares in the South Road Properties (SRP); a 3.3-hectare block behind SM City Cebu; a 2.5-hectare botanical garden behind SM Seaside; nine hectares in Barangay Pulpogan, Consolacion; the 13,711 sq.m. septage treatment plant lot; and the 2.476 sq.m. Cebu City Abattoir.

The deal also includes the return of the City’s possession of and rights to the zoo.

The MOA was signed by Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Governor Hilario Davide III last Dec. 7, 2016.

On Dec. 19, 2016, the board gave the governor the authority to negotiate with Cebu City. The following day, the City Council ratified en masse the MOA on the land swap deal. (RTF)