Mayor’s flip-flop on city condo draws flak

IS Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña being inconsistent with his statement on the integrity of the City Government’s five-story condominium?

The question was raised by opposition Councilors Joel Garganera and Pastor Alcover Jr. in a press conference yesterday.

After making Dr. Jose Rizal Public Library 24/7 in response to a student’s request, Osmeña has announced that he plans to convert some city buildings into study centers.

Among the structures he is eyeing for the project is the 20-year-old facility on N. Bacalso Ave.

The mayor wants the City’s Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), the Department of Public Works and Highways 7, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau 7 to concur with a structural engineer’s recommendation.

According to the mayor, Engr. Pericles Dakay told him that a demolition would not be necessary.

Earlier, Osmeña said that certain remedial measures can be made to save the structure of the building. He wants to make the first two floors of the condominium into a study center.

But some opposition officials found an “inconsistency” in the mayor’s statement.

“The mayor said the building was structurally unsound. That was the basis the occupants were forced to leave. Now that they’re gone, he’s saying he will turn the building into a study center,” Garganera said in Cebuano.

The condominium, or the Hilly Land Dormitory, was built in the late ‘90s as a medium-rise socialized housing project. It was later converted to house city scholars from mountain barangays.

However, engineers from the General Services Office and the Office of the Building Official (OBO) inspected the condominium in June 2016 and found out that the building had many signs of damage.

A year later, DEPW and OBO recommended the condemnation of the structure. It was also found that the building stands on top of a sinkhole.

For Alcover, it may be dangerous to use the abandoned facility again.

“Dili na maayo. I think he (Osmeña) has to explain to the public kay unsa unyay mahitabo dira. Kinsa man ang ma-blame (If something happens, who is to blame)?” he said.

But OBO Chief Engr. Josefa Ylanan said it is possible to keep the existing structure by retrofitting the building.

“If you still need the building itself, farther structural studies on its foundation can be made. It was reported that it stands on top of a sinkhole, so the impression of the mayor is to have it demolished,” she said.

Garganera, though, remained wary and called it a “play of words.”

“The thing is, he is not being consistent. All spaces available for the government as long as it is more accessible to students, much better. We will be encouraging also the barangays to establish study centers,” he said.

Garganera, former barangay captain of Tinago, said barangay officials plan to put up a study center in one of its buildings in the area.

In a related development, Garganera will file a resolution for next week’s City Council regular session commending Mitch Roldan, the City Public Library and Information Center, and the Office of the Mayor on making the facility available 24/7.

Roldan was the electrical engineering student who asked the mayor to extend the public library’s opening hours.

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