Soon-Ruiz now pushes for PPP

Soon-Ruiz now pushes for PPP
SunStar Mandaue City

Mandaue City Councilor Nerissa Soon-Ruiz has had a change of heart.

After earlier voting for a P3.5 billion loan ordinance for the construction of Mandaue’s government center, the councilor is now pushing for a public-private partnership (PPP) instead.

Ruiz, alongside fellow councilors Joel Seno, Andreo Icalina and Ting Sol Cabahug, voiced objections to the loan, emphasizing the potential benefits of a PPP during the regular session at Mandaue City Hall on Monday, July 8, 2024.

“It will be better for Mandaue if we don’t borrow the 3.5 billion because we already have proposals for private-public partnerships to build the structure. Mandaue will provide the lot because that was our campaign promise during the 2022 elections,” Ruiz said in Cebuano.

Ruiz recalled that during the 2022 electoral campaign, there were mentions of significant investors willing to handle all the construction, with the City only needing to provide the land. She questioned why the City would need to spend money now when there were offers made during the election.

Ruiz said the PPP approach will be more advantageous for Mandaue as it will spare the city from incurring a significant debt.

Ruiz also criticized the “inconsistency” of the current administration’s plan, referencing the previous administration under former mayor Luigi Quisumbing, which borrowed P1.5 billion for a government center.

She questioned why a larger loan is now being considered.

“If we decide to borrow, we are going to burden Mandauehanons through their taxes and other services might be affected because the City has to pay back the loan,” she said.

She said the City should instead, seek alternatives to avoid burdening residents with repayment responsibilities.

“Why don’t they do it because that’s what they said before that it can be done. So why is it that now that they are in the position, it can no longer be done and there is now a need to borrow money,” asked Ruiz.

While the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has already granted a P3-billion loan under the Asenso for LGUs Financing Program for constructing Mandaue’s new City Hall, the loan has yet to be ratified by the City Council.

SunStar Cebu earlier reported that the loan was approved earlier this year with the official agreement signed in March.

The council also granted Mayor Jonas Cortes the authority to sign the contract with WT Construction.

Ruiz argued there is still time for reconsideration.

“The loan has not been ratified by the council yet so there is still time for our officials to be enlightened,” Ruiz said.

As discussions continue, the future of Mandaue’s government center remains uncertain, with Ruiz and her colleagues pushing for a reevaluation of the financing strategy to ensure fiscal responsibility and sustainability for the City. / CAV


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