Cebu congressmen yesterday vowed to push for the approval of the proposed house bill creating the Mega Cebu Development Authority (MCDA).
During yesterday’s Convergence of Mega Cebu leaders at the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center (EADSC), Cebu City North District Rep. Raul Del Mar reported to the body that House Bill (HB) 6227 has already passed the House Committee on Rules.
“And we would say this was done in record time because all congressmen were united as one. After the Committee on Rules, it was referred to the floor which already approved it. Now, it is at the Committee on Appropriations,” said Del Mar, the principal author of HB 6227.
Under HB 6227, the MCDA shall comprise “the core metropolitan area embracing the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu and the cities of Danao, Talisay, Naga and Carcar as well as the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Cordova, Minglanilla and San Fernando.”
Functions of the MCDA include the formulation, coordination, regulation, and monitoring of the short, medium, and long-term plans, policies, and programs for the sustainable development and integration of the Metropolitan Cebu area.
This includes investment programs for multi-LGU or metropolitan-wide services, land use, spatial and physical development using strong, coherent governing rules and shared vision, with focus on integrated systems for urban development.
The bill was filed in 2015. Its co-authors include former 6th District Rep. and now Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing, former 5th District Rep. Joseph Durano, 1st District Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas, Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, Lapu-Lapu City District Rep. Aileen Radaza, 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, 4th District Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, and 2nd District Rep. Wilfredo Caminero.
Del Mar said they hope that the Committee on Appropriations will already approve the bill by June, before Congress goes on break so that when Congress resumes its sessions in July, it could be sponsored on the floor.
“Because of the joint cooperation of the congressmen on this, we won’t have a hard time getting it done,” he said.
And while he admits that Cebu congressmen cannot guarantee the same “swiftness” in approval at the Senate level, Del Mar said they will still help in pushing it at the Upper House.
Gullas and 7th District Rep. Peter John Calderon, who were both present during yesterday’s meeting, echoed Del Mar’s position .
Meanwhile, Del Mar expressed concern over the continued pronouncements of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña that the city will not be involved in the efforts of Mega Cebu.
He said that the late Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) President and Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB) co-chairperson Roberto Aboitiz already anticipated this and had planned to talk to Osmeña and even arrange a special briefing for him at City Hall.
The mayor agreed but the meeting never pushed through as Aboitiz passed away last April.
“We hope things will be better because we need unity, not only among the legislators but among the local government units,” Del Mar said, adding that he was able to meet with Osmeña last week and gave him a copy of the HB 6227.
He said he asked the mayor to go over the bill and give his suggestions or comments.
Del Mar lamented that the proposal for the creation of the MCDA has failed at least twice before because one or two congressmen or mayors did not support it.
Earlier this week, Osmeña reiterated that the city will not get involved with Mega Cebu affairs unless its officers are elected by the people.
“But we will not take it as the final decision of Mayor Tom. We will continue to reach out and discuss this with him, with the new chairman and president, so we can iron this out and we can have unity and get this done without any more hitches,” Del Mar said.