Seemingly lost in the din caused by the series of killings that hit Cebu City and other parts of Metro Cebu is the political maneuvering at the Cebu City Council for the revival of the Kawit Island joint venture deal and the sanitary landfill project in Barangay Binaliw, Cebu City.
With a new majority in the council, these twin projects were approved much to the consternation of the PDP-Laban Barug Team Rama bloc which resorted to procedural delaying tactics — i.e. declaring a recess that lasted for hours on end — in order to shut these two initiatives down.
Eventually the majority Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) bloc used their numbers to strong arm their approval of both the Kawit Island deal and the sanitary landfill project but one can expect the opposition bloc to challenge the legality of these deals in court.
However one feels and thinks about the outcome of the council deliberations on these two projects, the two-day impasse is simply political payback on Barug Team Rama’s part for a similar delaying tactic employed by BO-PK to stave off plans by former mayor Michael Rama’s administration to pay off the entire loan for the South Road Properties (SRP).
Five years ago, the BO-PK bloc rejected attempts by the Team Rama bloc to pay off the entire SRP loan of at least P3 billion by sourcing some of the P8.35 billion downpayment for the 45.2 hectare SRP lot made by three major developers.
At that time the BO-PK bloc claimed that the city cannot use the down payment due to a case filed by former prosecutor Romulo Torres that questioned the legality of the public bidding done for the SRP lots.
Fast-forward two years later and the new administration pursued a venture with Cebuano magnate John Gokongwei’s Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI) for the SRP’s Kawit Island.
But Barug Team Rama held the majority then and blocked the joint venture despite adjustments by the Osmeña administration to their recommendations. In rejecting the deal, the Team Rama bloc claimed that it is disadvantageous to the city.
If one were to probe deep into the arguments and counter-arguments of both camps in both of these cases, the one underlying similarity remains that either side didn’t want the other to succeed because it would mean major political points in time for next year’s elections.
In Rama’s case, the SRP loan payment would have boosted his political stock against Osmeña in time for the 2016 elections. The BO-PK made sure it didn’t prosper and three years later, they made sure that their initiatives would see the light of day.
If both of these initiatives by Barug Team Rama and BO-PK had been approved imagine how it would eventually benefit Cebu City. Unfortunately, it’s all mired by politics.
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