DINO TO OSMEÑA: SHOW ME THE MONEY
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino has laid out an extraordinary offer to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña — show me the money and I will shut up and leave.
Amid the growing turmoil between the President’s chief aide in the Visayas and Cebu City’s top executive over the supposed mishandling of local investors of Cebu City’s premier economic zone, Dino, on Thursday upped the drama surrounding the South Road Properties (SRP).
Speaking to reporters at the Visayas leg of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) ecozone summit, the presidential assistant challenged Osmeña to prove that there was an investor willing to pay P110,000 per square meter for a lot at the SRP.
“But it has to be apple to apple. Cannot be nga mamaligya kag three hectares. (You can’t just sell three hectares.) No, it should be 40 hectares at P110 thousand. Then if there is an investor that will show interest, money should come out. If one investor will come out, mohawa ko. Not only mohawa ko sa position. ‘Alis diyan’ sad ko sa Cebu. Moadto ko’g Davao (I will leave not only my position but I will leave Cebu. I will go to Davao),” Dino said.
Dino was referring to a three-hectare lot at the SRP which Osmeña planned to sell for P110,000 per square meter.
“I hope this will solve everything. We’ll see. Then I’ll shut up,” said Dino, as business groups, he said, have asked him to intervene in the conflicts surrounding the SRP.
Dino added that if Osmeña can show him an investor willing to pay P110,000 per square meter for a lot at the SRP, he will tell the three big locators in the area to “give up” their lots and give them to the “new investor.”
The new investor must also build the same projects proposed by the developers, said Dino.
During the incumbency of former mayor Michael Rama, a total of 45.2 hectares were sold to three developers, namely, SM Prime Holdings, Inc., Ayala Land, Inc., and Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI).
Twenty-six hectares were bought at P38,000 per square meter by the consortium of SM and Ayala while 19.2 hectares were bought by FLI at P35,128 per square meter.
The SM-Ayala consortium planned to turn the property into an Information Technology (IT) Park while FLI’s lot would have complemented its 50-hectare business and residential City di Mare development at the SRP, with 70 percent of the area intended for commercial or office development and the remaining 30 percent for housing.
Osmeña, however, slammed the deals as “anomalous”, insisting that the lots could have sold for much higher.
The city’s contracts with the three locators would be rescinded, the mayor said.
Last Monday, FLI announced that it was going to cancel its purchase agreement with the Cebu City government after the city failed to comply with many covenants and obligations under the contract such as giving FLI titles of the property.
With Cebu City slamming its doors on the FLI project at the SRP, another door, nearby, opens.
Gullas opens doors for FLI
In the neighboring city of Talisay, barely seven kilometers from FLI’s planned site at the SRP, Mayor Eduardo Gullas announced that he would welcome the real estate giant.
Gullas is asking FLI to consider moving their SRP project to Talisay since the land developer already has Corona del Mar, its high-end subdivision located in the city’s Barangay Pooc.
“Oo, kay gisalikway man gud sa Cebu,” he said. “So duna man sila dinhi high-end subdivision, sa kompanya man na nila, kanang sa may Pooc, so they might be interested to come to Talisay.”
(Yes, because they have been turned away by Cebu City. They have a high-end subdivision here, the one located in Pooc, so they might be interested to come to Talisay.)
Gullas said that there was no problem in finding a suitable area for the real estate developer as FLI would probably need less than 50 hectares of land.
“Naay daghan uy. Naay daghan,” he said. “Pila ra man nang area nila? I don’t think it’s more than 50 hectares ang gikinahanglan nila,” said Gullas.
(There are lots of areas available. I don’t think they would need more than 50 hectares.)
Gullas said that while he has not yet received any reports that FLI was interested in putting their money into Talisay following its withdrawal of the land deal with Cebu City, he was sending out an open invitation to the company.
“That’s why I’m inviting them if they want kay duna man sila’y ilang high-end subdivision, kanang naa sa Pooc. Ila man na. They might wish to partner. Corona del Mar. That’s the most high-end subdivision of the city of Talisay,” he said.
(That’s why I’m inviting them if they want to, if they wish to partner, because they already have a project here, a high-end subdivision located in Pooc, Corona del Mar. That’s their project. That’s the most high-end subdivision in the city of Talisay.)
Earlier this week, Osmeña assured FLI of a refund of their payment after the company withdrew its deal with the city for the purchase of the 19.2-hectare SRP lot.
At the Cebu City Council, worry and dismay met Dino’s pronouncement that some investors were having second thoughts about doing business in Cebu City.
Councilor Sisinio Andales said Dino does not deserve to be appointed as PAV for showing his “political bias and immaturity” against the mayor.
“It is inappropriate and uncalled for to encourage investors to go to other places but not Cebu City, coming from him,” Andales said.
Councilor Nendell Hanz Abella also thought Dino’s statement was “unfair.”
“As a councilor, I will protect and support possible investors and businessmen in the city. But I will also be the first to run after them if they violate our laws and ordinances, especially the non-payment of correct taxes,” Abella said.
For Councilor Mary Ann De Los Santos, only Dino, she said, was making a fuss about the city’s business climate as investors still keep coming to the city.
Councilor James Anthony Cuenco disagreed with Delos Santos, saying that there was already a “poor business climate” in the city even without Dino’s pronouncements as businessmen have set their sights on other areas outside Cebu City.
Councilor Raymond Garcia also agreed with Dino “100 percent”.
“I agree with this 100 percent. I mean, it’s better for them to put their money in Cebu province like Mandaue, Danao which is still in Cebu than losing them to cities outside Cebu like Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao. At least, it is still Cebu and the Cebuanos who will benefit,” said Garcia.
Councilor Joel Garganera said that Dino would not have suggested for businesses to invest in other areas if Osmeña did not “bully or threaten” investors.
“I just hope that the mayor will realize that his tantrums are not only affecting himself and the investors, but also the rest of Cebu City,” Garganera said.
Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said the recent development is “sad news”.
“During Mayor Mike’s (Rama) administration, we saw so many infrastructure projects implemented and we saw more than 600 new buildings constructed. But the current state of the city is so disheartening because the goodwill Mayor Rama established with the investors is gone in just six months of Tomas’ administration,” Pesquera said.
Nothing to rescind
In a press conference yesterday, Osmeña again questioned the contracts entered by the city with both the SM-Ayala consortium and FLI, saying that there was no authorization from the previous city council allowing then mayor Rama to sign the Deed of Sale of Installment with the two entities for the lots they bought.
“We’re going to ask the council to produce a copy of the contract. A contract is not valid until it is approved by the council. The council never approved the contract. How can you rescind a contract that does not exist?” Osmeña said.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.