Osmeña: COA refuses to rule on sale of SRP lots

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram May 14,2018 - 10:57 PM

The South Road Properties signage that sits on top of the welcome hill greets motorists as they enter the reclaimed property of the Cebu City government. Mayor Tomas Osmeña has questioned the validity of the sale of properties in the SRP to the Ayala-SM consortium. The Commission on Audit has however not answered the mayor’s queries regarding the sale. CDN FILE PHOTO

Has the Commission on Audit (COA) refused to comment about the legality of the sale of 26 hectares of land in the South Road Properties (SRP) to two of the nation’s largest property firms in 2014?

A day after the Cebu City Council junked the resolution authorizing Mayor Tomas Osmeña to enter into a joint venture agreement with Universal Hotel and Resorts Inc. to develop the Kawit property, the mayor presented documents to reporters showing that the COA has refused to answer his queries regarding the P10-billion deal entered into by the Ayala and SM consortium in 2014, during the incumbency of then Mayor Michael Rama.

“I will beat them and I will get that lot back here for our people in the city. I will fight for it, I will not say I will do my best. I will win. Because I don’t intend to lose. Because we have everything at stake here. There’s blood in my eyes. I’m going to fight for this,” said Osmeña.

“But to those of you who doubt it’s a real sale or not, I will disclose my letter to the Commission on Audit. They’re sleeping on it. They don’t like to act on it. I don’t know what the influence of SM has on COA,” he added.

The mayor sent a three-page letter addressed to COA-7 regional director, lawyer Eden Rafanan, asking their opinion whether or not the sale between the Cebu City government, then headed by Rama, and the consortium was legal.

It was dated on September 7, 2017, and contained nine observations Osmeña pointed out were deficiencies in the deal, any of which is sufficient to render it illegal.

However, four follow-up letters requesting any updates, from October to December, showed that COA had not acted on it.
“I identified what are the flaws in this transaction. There are nine fatal defects. I call it mortal sins,” said Osmeña.

Defects

The most prominent “defect” the mayor claimed on the P10-billion consortium was the resolution superseding an ordinance which prohibits the sale of the SRP without any guidelines and approval from the council.

“Even the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) gave an opinion that the resolution did not amend the ordinance. That’s fatal,” Osmeña stated.

With the resolution’s nature and purpose invalid, Osmeña said Rama, in his capacity as mayor, had no authority from the council to dispose the lots, and therefore could not sign a deed of sale.

The rest involved non-compliance of procedures covering the disposal of government properties, such as the failure to post the transaction in a public place by the Secretary of the City Government’s Committee on Awards; no copy of the deed of sale was furnished to the council as proof of the sale; no evidence presented to prove that the consortium existed, and that the entire sale did not have the approval from COA.

But whether or not COA will give their opinion and findings, Osmeña said he is determined to sue SM and Ayala for the transaction.

“We lost (P50 billion when we sold the lots to SM and Ayala). And I’m going to fight that. That’s my next big case. Now, people have told me that SM is above the law, they’re all above the law. Ayala’s above the law,” Osmeña said.

“I cannot beat them. But if the Cebuanos are behind me, I promise you, I will beat them and I will get that lot back here for our people in the city,” he added.

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TAGS: COA, Osmeña, REFUSES, rule, sale, SRP lots

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