Did Tomas allow it?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

THE support shown by five councilors, who are disciples of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), to the resolution allowing Mayor Mike Rama to sell lots at the South Road Properties (SRP) may have the blessing of party boss Tomas R. Osmeña.

BOPK Councilors Gerry Carillo, Noel Wenceslao, Roberto Cabarrubias, Eugenio Gabuya Jr. and Richie Osmeña were among those who filed a resolution authorizing Mayor Rama to negotiate and sell 45.2 hectares of SRP prime lots.

Knowing the mentality of Tomas, I don’t think Councilors Carillo, Wenceslao, Cabarrubias, Gabuya and Osmeña would have acted on their own on this matter.


Naturally, the filing of the resolution got the quick support of Team Rama Councilors Hanz Abella, Dave Tumulak, James Cuenco, Mary Ann de los Santos and Philip Zafra.

A supposed safeguard proposed by the councilors is to sell these lots through public bidding. This is not to defend the mayor, but I have yet to hear he has been charged with graft. So there is nothing to fear.

Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, who was acting mayor when Mayor Rama was in the United States, sensed success, as the council’s presiding officer, with the support of the five BOPK councilors to the resolution.

To recall, BOPK councilors, who compose the majority in the council, passed a measure during the first term of Mayor Rama barring him from disposing of SRP lots.

Meanwhile, Labella showed statesmanship. Instead of claiming victory over the move of the five BOPK councilors, he credited it to the five councilors’ sense of responsibility.

"I am confident in their sense of objectivity that when it comes to major issues that involve the welfare of the city residents, I know that, at the end of the day, they will transcend political affiliations just like what's happening now," he said.

Indeed, the support of the five BOPK councilors is something that Team Rama and the Cebuanos should cheer for. The sale of SRP lots would make bring the city’s finances afloat and could also pay off its huge overseas loans.

Lot No. 8, with a total land area of 26 hectares, and Lot Nos. 7 and 17 with a consolidated land area of 19.2 hectares, are to be sold at P20,000 per sq. meter. That could bring in a fresh P12 billion for the city’s coffers.

If the lots are sold at the price proposed, the city could pay in full the remaining P3.2 billion balance of the more than P5 billion loan it obtained from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fund the SRP work.

But what if BOPK chieftain Tomas won’t give the imprimatur to the five BOPK councilors so they could support the resolution? Will the five councilors back out if Tomas orders them to do so? This remains to be seen.

To pass and approve a resolution, the city council only needs a majority of nine votes since there are only 17 councilors. This resolution is supported by 10 councilors.

It was former congressman Tomas, when he was the city mayor, who implemented the south reclamation project that is now called the SRP. But Tomas has definitely no right over the SRP lots and he knows it.

One of the reasons why I think the BOPK councilors, upon the orders of Tomas, barred Mayor Rama before from selling the SRP lots, is that they wanted to prevent him from making something out of the sale.

Mayor Rama is now in his second term. Rama’s victory in the last election must have humbled Tomas. Perhaps, Tomas felt he couldn’t wait for another term so he came up with a concession.

Well, it’s about time Tomas takes a second look at the poor state of the city and its awful services to the public. The city’s coffers have been tied to the city’s huge loan with Jica for the in putting up of the SRP.

Former congressman Tomas should therefore give the sale a go in order to fast track the development of the SRP and put the city’s feet back on the ground.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.


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