City Gov’t to start clearing CICC of fire victims by March 2024

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File PhotoHoney Cotejo

THE Mandaue City Government aims to start clearing operations and relocating families residing at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) by March 2024.

City Administrator James Jamaal Calipayan told SunStar Cebu Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, that they aim to start clearing the area as early as March next year so that the City Government can start the construction of the anticipated one-stop-shop government center.

Currently, the CICC houses about 500 informal settlers who were victims of the fire that hit Barangay Guizo in 2016 and another fire that struck Sitios Basubas and Maharlika in Barangay Tipolo in 2019.

The City planned a socialized housing project called Tipolo Residences in Sitio Maharlika, with a groundbreaking in November 2022 to serve as the relocation site for the fire victims.

Earlier, Johnbee Biton, head of the City’s Housing and Urban Development Office, said they planned to relocate the first batch of victims to the Tipolo Residences in October this year. However, Biton announced in July that it would be postponed to May next year, as the first two buildings of the five-building project might not be ready for occupancy.

Government center

Calipayan, however, said they aim to start the relocation as early as March. He is confident all the victims will be transferred before the end of 2024.

Mayor Jonas Cortes earlier announced the City’s plan to build a government center at the site once the Cebu Provincial Government’s sale of the CICC to the Mandaue City Government is finalized.

As of now, the City Government and the Province are still waiting for the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) updated appraisal of the CICC.

Cortes said they plan to relocate Mandaue City Hall, commonly called Mandaue Presidencia, and all City Government offices to the CICC site for easier access to constituents for government transactions.

Meanwhile, the old city hall will be transformed into a cultural heritage park, comprising a museum and a library, while the parking area will be transformed into a park to serve as the city’s “first tourist spot.”

Calipayan clarified that the City does not intend to demolish the CICC but only to clear its dilapidated portion and evaluate if the structure can still be repurposed.

In November, the City Council approved on second reading a P3 billion budget for the building’s remodeling as part of its 2024 annual budget.

The Cebu Provincial Government constructed the CICC for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in 2007. However, it has remained unused since it was damaged during the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013, and super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013.

‘Defects’ on CICC sale

In 2017, Cebu Province, under then-governor Hilario Davide III, agreed to sell the CICC to the Mandaue City Government, under then-mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, for P300 million. The sale was

completed in 2018.

Since Mandaue already owned the lot, only the building was sold.

However, the Commission on Audit (COA) issued an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) to the Province of Cebu on July 22, 2019, after noting deficiencies in the sale.

“The Province consummated the sale of the CICCebu International Convention Center, including its appurtenances with a total cost of P 840,060,089.75 at a total price of P300 million through negotiation with the City of Mandaue in the absence of failed public biddings and without securing prior COA approval,” the AOM said.

To cure the defect and enable the parties to reach a compromise on the sale of the CICC, the Cebu Provincial Government and Mandaue City agreed to seek the BIR’s appraisal of CICC through a letter addressed to COA on April 4, 2022.

But Calipayan said they have yet to receive the updated reappraisal as of Dec. 8.

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