OWNERSHIP HISTORY. Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña says Osmeña Blvd. and its surrounding premises used to belong to Cebu Heights Inc. His father Serging Jr. was the firm’s president and principal stockholder. Cebu Heights and the Province executed a deed of exchange in 1954 involving three big lots of the Province and 14 smaller lots of Cebu Heights that formed part of two national roads in Cebu City. Then President Carlos Garcia withheld action on the deed of exchange in 1957. /
OWNERSHIP HISTORY. Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña says Osmeña Blvd. and its surrounding premises used to belong to Cebu Heights Inc. His father Serging Jr. was the firm’s president and principal stockholder. Cebu Heights and the Province executed a deed of exchange in 1954 involving three big lots of the Province and 14 smaller lots of Cebu Heights that formed part of two national roads in Cebu City. Then President Carlos Garcia withheld action on the deed of exchange in 1957. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

Tomas wants Osmeña Blvd. back

FORMER Cebu City mayor Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña has challenged the Cebu Provincial Government’s ownership of the lot along Osmeña Blvd. where the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project is being implemented.

During a press conference on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, he warned that if this fiasco continues, he will be forced to exercise his rights and reclaim the ownership of Osmeña Blvd., which had been donated by his late father Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr.

Osmeña said Osmeña Blvd., which the CBRT traverses, and its surrounding premises used to belong to Cebu Heights Inc.

He said his father was its president and principal stockholder.

“My father gave the Province properties, in exchange for other properties, which my father did not get. Technically speaking, the deal was not valid,” Osmeña said.

However, the Provincial Government under the administration of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia earlier insisted that it owns portions of Osmeña Blvd. “We will see each other in court,” Osmeña said, referring to the Province’s claims.

“It’s all part of the Cebu Heights (Inc.) and it’s owned 100 percent by my father. Even the part of the Fuente Osmeña (Circle) is owned by my father. I even have the title for it,” he said.

If the Provincial Government insists on stopping the CBRT project citing its ownership of the lot, Osmeña said he will reclaim the property.

Administrative Order 253

Then President Carlos Garcia signed Administrative Order 253 on Oct. 7, 1957, where he exonerated Serging, who was then governor, and three others for dishonesty and grave misconduct in office allegedly committed in connection with the execution of a deed of exchange involving certain parcels of land by and between the Province and Cebu Heights.

Garcia then withheld action on the deed of exchange executed in November 1954.

The exchange involved three big lots of the Province and 14 smaller lots of Cebu Heights, which formed part of two national roads in Cebu City.

Meanwhile, the former mayor reacted negatively to the two resolutions passed by the Provincial Board (PB) on Monday demanding the stoppage of the CBRT implementation, and the Feb. 21 motion of the Cebu City Council, pushed by City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, which called for the suspension of scheduled civil works for CBRT Packages 2 and 3.

He said the National Government will not heed the call of the PB and City Council to halt the project’s civil works.

He said both PB and the council have “no teeth” to stop the project.

Osmeña said stopping the project will not solve the problem, but only worsen it.

The CBRT was Osmeña’s brainchild. He had pushed for it when he was still mayor and then congressman.

During the press con, he said he envisioned the CBRT to alleviate the commuting woes of residents in Barangay Talamban and Bulacao going to and from the downtown area, citing that a dedicated bus lane will be beneficial to Cebuanos who cannot acquire motor vehicles.

Discussions on the proposed BRT system started during his term.

In 1997, Osmeña visited Curitiba, Brazil, where the first BRT was implemented in 1974.

Possible repercussions

In 2008, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan approved the project’s pre-feasibility study, according to Osmeña.

He said stopping the CBRT may result in a negative credit rating for the Philippine Government in terms of foreign financing and funding agreements with international financial institutions.

“The Philippine Government will never have an international bilateral agreement because if you do that you will be blacklisted from all donors and donations around the world,” Osmeña said. “They will not spoil their international credit rating just because Councilor Cuenco and some crazy Provincial Board members start ego tripping and say we should stop CBRT.”

He pointed out that the CBRT was funded not only by the World Bank but also by the French Development Agency and the Philippine Government.

The CBRT took 20 years to get off the ground.

The entire CBRT system is composed of three packages:

Package 1 consists of a 2.38-kilometer segregated bus lane with four bus stations and 1.15 kilometers of pedestrian improvements from the Cebu South Bus Terminal to the Capitol building.

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

Package 3 includes the construction of a 22.1-kilometer feeder route, with 76 bus stops including feeder terminals in Barangay Talamban in Cebu City and in Talisay City. / EHP

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