Seares: Would Tomas still use referendum on SRP lots?

"As soon as I become mayor, I'm going to formally revoke the sale of SRP lots to Ayala, SM and Filinvest..."
-- Then election winner Tomas Osmeña in May 12, 2016 press-con at his Guadalupe residence

SO far Cebu City Mayor Osmeña has not asked the City Council to rescind or annul contracts on sale of 452 hectares of SRP land land for P16.7 billion to three giant developers. The deals were "highly dubious, if not outright corrupt," the would-be mayor said just two days after the election.

Two problems then and now:

-- The City Council is controlled by the BOPK rival Team Rama (despite the later desertion by three Rama councilors from their party);

-- It's doubtful if the contracts that were perfected and partly enforced could be voided by the unilateral wish of just one party.

In the same press-con, Tomas said he'd use initiative-referendum to hurdle the City Council: 1,000 registered voters filing the petition with the City Council and, if it rejects or doesn't act on the amendment, the Comelec holding a referendum.

But even if majority of the voters will approve it, that won't scuttle the sale. The city still has to go to court if the corporate giants won't agree.

Look at the process, hassle and time: the initiative-referendum is "complicated" enough; litigation may take a decade or more.

Effects

Tomas could tie up developers' money and derail their plans. But wreckage on private business would also hurt city interests: development of the area, income from SRP and expected jobs. And what investors would trust a city that reneges on a contract?

Maybe Tomas was just "throwing his weight" around and "punishing" the investors who made the deal with Mike.

But his moves tend to confirm that it's easier to shift balance of power in the City Council than go through initiative-referendum.

(paseares@gmail.com)
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