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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Justify need to sell SRP lots, Team Rama asks Osmeña

TEAM Rama, which now dominates the Cebu City Council, will have to be convinced first on the need to sell lots at the South Road Properties (SRP).

This was the statement made by former mayor Michael Rama, who heads the group, after learning of Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s plan to sell 1.5 hectares of the 60-hectare Pond F.

“We (Team Rama) have never been into blocking but we need to be convinced because if you look back during the campaign, there were positions my opponent had made and I was not even expecting that the issue of selling will be a subject matter at this time,” he said.

In a news conference he called yesterday noon, Rama said Osmeña had been campaigning against the selling of SRP lots during his (Rama’s) administration.

“He kept on saying the City shouldn’t sell. That the City should not be in a rush to sell. So we have to be convinced on why we are selling now. Why is the City selling now?” he said in Cebuano.

Rama said he doesn’t yet see the need to sell portions of the more than 300-hectare property.

He, however, said he will consult Team Rama councilors regarding the matter.

“It will be deliberated very clearly by our team. That is part of the indispensable portion of my involvement being the head of Team Rama,” he said.

In a separate news conference yesterday, Osmeña reiterated his plan to amend City Ordinance 2332, the ordinance that protects SRP from unauthorized transactions and dealings.

The ordinance, which was passed in 2012, prohibits the mayor and other city officials from marketing, advertising and selling lots of the 300-hectare property without council approval.

It was just last year that the City, during the administration of Rama, sold 45.2-hectare lots at the SRP to three developers: 26 hectares to the consortium of Ayala Land-Cebu Holdings Inc. and SM Prime Holdings Inc. and 19.2 hectares to Filinvest Land Inc.

The properties were sold at P35,000 to P38,000 per square meter. The total sale amounted to P16.76 billion. A 50-percent down payment of P8.35 billion was already made.

Rama would’ve wanted to use the down payment to pay the entire loan balance for the development of the SRP, which stands at around P2.4 billion but it did not push through.

The other 50 percent is payable in three years, starting this month.

Asked about this, Rama believes that the three developers should still pay the City despite the pronouncement of Osmeña that he wants the transaction revoked.

“They should pay because that is part of their obligation,” he said.

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