Watching closely the Cebu City Council on 93-1 issue
For more than ten long, agonizing years of waiting, the thousands of occupants of the lot covered by 93-1 finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel when Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III signed last week the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the land swap deal.
To simply understand the background of the story, let me rewind the events to 1993 when the Provincial Board approved the Provincial Ordinance 93-1.
The ordinance authorized the sale of the province-owned lots located in 11 barangays in Cebu City to more than 5,000 families who have been occupants of the land.
Although they were sold to the occupants in the amount that they could afford to pay, there were some who still have not paid their obligations in full and others have not paid at all. Hence, the province during the time of Governor Gwen Garcia decided to recover the properties.
Because Mayor Tomas Osmeña in 2006 did not want the houses of the occupants of the province-owned lots demolished, he initiated negotiations with Governor Garcia. Instead of the province getting back its properties, the city will exchange them with other city properties that are also located in the city.
As a matter of legal procedure, both Osmeña and Garcia needed the approval of their respective councils for their agreement to be valid. However, it did not materialize because of the “dawat limpyo” remark of Mike Rama who was then the vice mayor at that time that irritated Governor Garcia, prompting her to abort the deal. That issue soured the relationship of Osmeña and Garcia and turned them into mortal enemies.
Recently, I had the chance to have separate interviews over my “Straight to the Point” radio program at dyHP RMN Cebu with both former Cebu City mayor Mike Rama and incumbent Mayor Tomas Osmeña on the matter. In fairness to both of them, they expressed their intention to solve the 93-1 issue.
The only difference is that on Rama’s part, he and Davide reached the point of having a draft MOA. It ended there. But on Osmeña’s part, he and Davide had the draft MOA and had it finally signed.
Hence, the revival of the land swap deal is finally done insofar as the two local chief executives are concerned. But it seems that history repeats itself, hopefully with modifications this time that would favor the people. Because after Osmeña and Davide signed the MOA, again, as a legal requirement to make it completely valid and enforceable, both local chief executives will ask their respective legislative bodies to ratify the agreement.
This is the crucial part of the legal procedure that Osmeña will be facing — almost the same obstacle in the first land swap deal. At this point, the people’s hope is in danger of stumbling in the dark again after another delay at the City Council’s level.
It was Cebu City Councilor Joey Daluz III who strongly convinced the Team Rama bloc in the council to defer the approval of the MOA and had it referred to an ad hoc committee for “further study.” Ladies and gentlemen, the committee is headed by Daluz and composed of Team Rama councilors.
I just hope that the members of the committee are objective enough in studying this very sensitive issue.
Yesterday, Daluz visited me in my radio program, so I interviewed him live on-air. He said his committee is only asking for at least one week to review the MOA. So at least the “study” has a clear time table and will not be used as an excuse to delay or worse not to approve the MOA at all.
I don’t want to speculate on the decision of each councilor on the issue.
I just hope that they will set aside their political colors and vote on what is best for the affected people and the whole city. The ball is in the court of the City Council now. How they will play it is something that the people will be closely watching.
I just wonder why we did not hear loud objections in the City Council when the city donated lands to the University of the Philippines, to the Supreme Court, to the DPWH, DOH, etc.? But why is there too much noise now on the land swap deal when thousands of people are affected?
Is this not caused by too much politics? The Cebuanos are closely watching.
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