Guv: No order to stop entire CBRT project

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia
Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (Courtesy of Sugbo News)

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia insisted on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, that she was not stopping the implementation of the whole bus transit project in Cebu City, saying she ordered only the temporary halt to the construction of a bus stop in front of the Capitol building due to potential violation of heritage laws.

The governor told reporters that the cease-and-desist memorandum she issued last Feb. 27 was to stop excavation and civil works of a bus stop, which is part of the first package of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project, in front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd.

Garcia called the press conference to react to the administrative complaint filed by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama against her before the Office of the President (OP) and the online backlash she had received relating to the CBRT project’s first package, which covers a distance of 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd.

Rama also asked the OP to suspend Garcia, saying she had committed abuse of authority, oppression and grave misconduct as well as graft and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees when she issued the memorandum to stop civil works on the bus project.

Garcia said Rama’s petition has negative implications for Cebuanos as it could lead to a continued rift between the two local government units.

Why now?

She also addressed the public’s questions about her belated complaint against the CBRT project despite the groundbreaking ceremony already happening in February 2023. She explained that the Provincial Government was not involved in the CBRT’s planning phase and was therefore unaware of the project’s design, specifically the bus stops.

The bus stop features a leaf-like structure serving as a roof, which Garcia said will obstruct the view of the almost century-old Capitol building.

The governor emphasized that the design of the bus station does not need to be “Instagrammable” or visually appealing for social media platforms.

According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Advisory Board, the bus station potentially violates Grade 1 Level Heritage Protection under Republic Act 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

“Klarohon ta ni ha. Sabta palihog: Wa gyoy nag-ingon undanga ang BRT. Ang akong giingon ang bus stations (Let’s clear this up. Please understand: No one said the BRT has to stop. What I complained about was the) bus stations,” Garcia said.

Memorandum 16-2024, issued by the governor, also requested the CBRT proponent and contractor to seek the approval of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Last March 25, the NCCA requested the proponent to seek its approval before resuming work. / EHP

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