THE building owned by the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) currently housing some offices of Cebu City Hall will soon be put up for bidding.
This was the latest pronouncement of MCWD board of directors (BOD) chairman Jose Daluz III after a series of failed negotiations between the Cebu City Government and MCWD over the building’s rental.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu on its online news and commentary program “Beyond the Headlines” Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, Daluz said the City can still participate in the bidding.
“If they can match our terms, they will stay. If another entity wins, they need to vacate the building,” said Daluz in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Currently, Daluz said the MCWD management is still finalizing the terms for the bidding for the lease of the building.
He said they would soon be demanding that City Hall vacate the building but assured that due process will be observed.
He said the water district is not after the revenue it will get from the lease, but they are bound to maximize the use of their properties.
In a press statement in August 2023, after the MCWD BOD passed a resolution on May 18 of that year, approving the rental rate proposal to the City amounting to P700,000 a month and authorizing the MCWD general manager to negotiate with the City about the lease, MCWD sent the proposed lease contract to the Office of the Mayor on May 26.
MCWD said the City responded on July 5 with lawyers Luigine Christi Chan and Lyndon Bernardo Basan stating that “the terms and conditions in the Draft Contract of Lease are in accordance with the law, morals, public policy and good customs.”
However, MCWD said it received an email from the mayor’s office on July 24 containing the City’s counterproposal of the P200,000 rental rate, which was conveyed through lawyer John Michael Lequigan.
Based on the Facebook post of the Cebu City News and Information Office, the City opened the satellite office in July 2023.
Offices under the executive department that are not policy-determining offices but were located in the Legislative Building, were transferred to the satellite office, including the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, and the City Hospitalization Assistance Management Program, among others.
Daluz said the City was able to stay that long in the MCWD-owned building without paying any rent “by the tolerance” of the water district.
“We give favor to Cebu City because they are a government,” said Daluz.
Daluz said the City started doing renovation works on the building in March 2023, more than a year since it was vacated by a retail store that used to occupy the building for 15 years. Its contract with MCWD was not renewed when it expired in September 2021.
Daluz said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama talked about the possibility of a usufruct agreement, but the MCWD management pointed out that it would mean a loss in revenue.
“Rules when it comes to government to government is not that strict. Usufruct is also an option, but we have to maximize our properties,” said Daluz.
A usufruct is a legal right accorded to a party that confers the temporary right to use and derive income or benefit from someone else’s property.
He said the negotiation between the City and MCWD then started.
In an interview last Jan. 7, Daluz said it is futile to continue negotiating with the City since they continue to disagree on the price, deposits, and other terms even months after the City occupied the building.
SunStar Cebu sought City Administrator Collin Rosell’s opinion about the matter, but he has yet to respond as of writing.