Bathan: Mandaue PESO to assist displaced Big Hotel workers
CEBU CITY, Phillippines—Amid Big Hotel’s announcement to close down in the next three months, the Mandaue city government assured that it would assist the about 300 hotel employees who might be rendered jobless by the shutdown.
Lawyer Mae Elaine Bathan, executive secretary to Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing, said the mayor had already directed the city’s Public Employment Services Office (Peso) to assist the displaced employees.
On Friday, March 8, Cenore Corp. President Roderick Ngo informed the city government that it would close down the hotel in three months as they recorded a daily income loss of P3 million following the notice of closure that the city had served against them.
“After yesterday’s (March 7) board meeting, Cenore has decided instead that it will direct the hotel’s management operator Travelbee Management Corp. to close the operations of Big Hotel effective three months from today,” Ngo said in the letter dated March 8.
Ngo earlier explained that they would need the three-month leeway to comply with the pertinent requirements of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), such as the one-month notice required under the Labor Code for the retrenchment of about 300 affected workers.
“When the memo was posted, we have posted [a] notice to all employees to see the PESO [office] as there was a directive from the mayor to assist them in their employment. We have prepared for this kay nagpakabana mi ug gipangandaman namo ni nga situation kung di gyud morespeto ang Big Hotel sa Mandaue ug sa COA (Commission on Audit),” Bathan told Cebu Daily News Digital.
The city government served the closure order against Big Hotel and Big Hotel Suites on February 27. The order stemmed from an alleged irregularity in the terms of the lease agreement on the 1.4-hectare city-owned lot where the hotels stand, which were entered into during the previous administration of then Mayor Jonas Cortes, now representative of the sixth district of Cebu.
The City later recalled the closure order against Big Hotel Suites, which adjoins Big Hotel, as they found that the hotel had been subleasing the space from another entity ,which had a valid lease contract with the government.
The lot was originally leased by the city to Katumanan Hardware Inc . (KHI) in 2007, valid for 15 years. It was extended to 25 years in 2013 and on the same year, was assigned by KHI to Cenore Corp.
The deed of assignment was, however, flagged down by an audit report of COA because the deed of assignment did not get a prior approval of the City Council.
The majority of the City Council, or the seven councilors allied with Cortes, who is seeking election for mayor against Quisumbing, however, adopted a committee report on February 27 which affirmed the validity of the deed of assignment.
Quisumbing has filed graft and administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas against the seven city councilors who voted for the approval of the joint committee report of the Committees on Laws and Ordinances, and Assets and Properties “confirming, affirming and ratifying the validity and authority of the City Mayor to conform and approve the Deed of Assignment entered into between Katumanan Hardware and Cenore Corporation on March 14, 2013 as contained in the Memorandum of Agreement dated June 14, 2013.”
Cortes, for his part, labeled the city’s act of imposing the closure order as a political move and that the issue on the lease agreement was “exaggerated beyond proportions.”
“The collateral damage will have a butterfly effect on the Mandaue economy for years to come, and as a growing city, we cannot afford it,” Cortes said in a statement.
But Bathan maintained that there was nothing political in the actions of the city to “rectify the irregularity in the transaction.”“If indeed Jonas Cortes is sincere about the plight of the workers or the economy, then he should have made sure that during his time as Mayor all his dealings were legal, regular and at par with COA standards, and he should have thought about the families who will be displaced,” Bathan said. “The decision of Big Hotel is purely the prerogative of management. The city, on the other hand, has an obligation to right what is wrong. In so doing, we open doors to possible investors on the land, which the city owns, who will bring in better economic advantage to city and are willing to transact and do business with Mandaue [City] through legal means,” she added.|dbs
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