Imee Marcos: CBRT disagreement should've been resolved prior to construction

Imee Marcos: CBRT disagreement should've been resolved prior to construction

PRESIDENTIAL sister and lawmaker Maria Imelda "Imee" Marcos has a message for both Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who are currently in disagreement over the latter's call to stop the city's Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project.

The senator said she has no plans to meddle in the issue, particularly the rift between the two local government officials. However, she emphasized that the disagreement should have been resolved before the construction started.

Marcos' comment came following Garcia's call to halt the construction of the CBRT within Capitol-owned lots due to the alleged lack of a documentary permit.

"I do not want to interfere since this is not my territory. I am certain the local officials know much better. Sadly, this should have been settled before the National Government launched it," Marcos said in a press conference on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Marcos is in Cebu for a series of engagements, including the distribution of Emergency Housing Assistance and Cash Distribution to Typhoon Odette victims in Mandaue City. Typhoon Odette hit Cebu in December 2021.

CBRT FIASCO

Earlier in Feb., SunStar Cebu reported that in a now-deleted post on the Provincial Government’s social media arm on Feb. 27, Garcia ordered the Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd. to stop the construction of a bus station in front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City.

In her memorandum, Garcia said that the CBRT project’s proponents lacked the necessary authorization from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for the construction of the bus stations along Osmeña Blvd.

Rama, on the other hand, promptly defended the project, asserting that the governor should not interfere, regardless of any memorandum issued by Garcia. He emphasized the essential involvement of the City Government in the BRT project.

"During the Sinulog, I just restrained myself, but now, no longer. We will confront each other now," the mayor said on City Hall’s program called 'Ingna’ng Mayor' last Feb. 29.

Rama emphasized that enough is enough, saying the Capitol should not meddle in the city’s projects.

Before the staging of the Sinulog Festival last January, the governor called for the return of the event to the Cebu City Sports Center. Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia publicly announced his support for this call, contradicting the mayor's position to hold the festival in the South Road Properties.

The vice mayor is the governor's nephew.

Additionally, Rama criticized his vice mayor for meeting with Governor Garcia and city officials to discuss CBRT matters, calling it "a stab in the back" and expressing his disapproval during a meeting with the legislative body.

During a regular council session, Vice Mayor Garcia urged the Office of the Building Official (OBO) to issue a cease and desist order against the CBRT contractor. He aimed to propose enhanced bus station designs to key bodies, including the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (Chac) of Cebu City, and the Cebu City Council.

Meanwhile, Former Mayor Tomas Osmeña has cautioned the governor, hinting at the possibility of legal recourse should she continue to impede CBRT construction.

Osmeña is recognized as the pioneer of the CBRT concept, having conceived it in the late 1990s.

'FIND PEACE'

Marcos hoped the two local officials would bury the hatchet and find peace to settle their concerns on the transportation system project.

"I hope they make amends soon so we can finally have a solution for this," she said in a mix of Filipino and English.

She reiterated that she will not meddle and intervene to resolve the misunderstanding, emphasizing that it is a local matter and that local officials should discuss among themselves.

CBRT is a transportation system in the city designed to provide efficient and reliable bus services along dedicated lanes, aiming to alleviate traffic congestion and improve public transportation in the city.

The CBRT system comprises three packages. Package 1 includes a 2.38-kilometer segregated bus lane with four bus stations and 1.15 kilometers of pedestrian improvements, extending from the Cebu South Bus Terminal to the Capitol building.

Package 2 features a 10.8-kilometer segregated bus lane with 13 bus stations. It also has features like a bus terminal at the South Road Properties, a roundabout in Cebu IT Park, and a depot in SRP.

Lastly, Package 3 involves constructing a 22.1-kilometer feeder route featuring 76 bus stops, including feeder terminals in Barangay Talamban in Cebu City and Talisay City.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led the CBRT project's groundbreaking rites on Feb. 27, where he was joined by the mayor and governor along with Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

Rama and Garcia backed the president during his campaign in the May 2022 Presidential Elections. President Marcos garnered over 1.5 million votes in Cebu, the most vote-rich province in the country with 3.2 million voters last national elections.

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