Isla dela Victoria project a hot topic in Cebu City’s campaign scene

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio March 31,2019 - 06:05 PM

This is an artist’s rendition of the Isla dela Victoria project at the South Road Properties.| Tomas Osmeña’s Facebook page

CEBU CITY, Philippines — As the election campaign for the local candidates began on Friday, March 29, rival parties in Cebu City rehashed their debate on the controversial Isla dela Victoria, an P18- billion project at the 8-hectare Kawit Island of the South Road Properties (SRP).

Before the start of the campaign period, posts from the mayoralty candidates’ Facebook pages have refreshed the arguments of one of the most disputed projects of the city in 2018.

Read more: Isla dela Victoria deal inked

Incumbent Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, the standard bearer of the Partido Barug-PDP Laban, said on a Facebook post dated March 27, that he was not against the development of the Kawit property.

However, he said,  “I am against a deal that is grossly disadvantageous to Cebu City even if it is grossly advantageous to some people.”

He insisted that the deal was disadvantageous because the city would only gain 10 percent of the profit of the development of the Isla de la Victoria from the joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Gokongwei-led Universal Hotel and Resorts Inc. (UHRI).

Labella also denied that he and the opposition councilors walked out of the session hall during a council session on August 8 last year when the disputed project was tackled by the City Council.

“Contrary to the allegations of Mr. Osmeña, I and the other opposition councilors did not walk out of the session hall. Since session was already adjourned (as certified by the SP Secretary), there is no reason for us to stay just to please a spoiled brat,” he added.

Labella said that his opposition to the JVA with UHRI meant that he had taken the best interest of Cebu City at heart.

“Unlike him, I have no personal interest in the Kawit deal,” he said.

Read more: TRO petition for Kawit Island project junked

Reelectionist Mayor Tomas Osmeña, standard bearer of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) retaliated on his own Facebook page that Labella “lied” when he said that they did not walk out of the session hall.

He said in his post that Labella’s partymates were part of the ad hoc committee formed to study the Isla dela Victoria project.

Osmena claimed in his post that after they agreed to all the committee’s suggestions, Labella still voted against it, as that they had to vote according to party lines.

The mayor said added that Labella, by his own admission voted against his own recommendations.

Osmeña defended the JVA, saying it would be beneficial to the city, as the UHRI would be pouring in P18 billion worth of investments including infrastructure development, new businesses in the area, and the hiring of thousands of workers, without the city spending a single centavo.

During the BO-PK kick-off rally at the Cebu  City Sports Complex on Saturday, March 30, Osmeña said that with the 50-year lease of the UHRI on Kawit Island, Cebu City woould benefit for as long as the project would earn profit.

“Anang 50 years, patay na lang ko pero and Cebu City nag earn gihapon sa Isla dela Victoria,” said Osmeña.

(In 50 years, I would be dead by that time but the Cebu City government would continue to earn in the Isla dela Victoria project.)

Read more: ISLA DELA VICTORIA GETS OFF THE GROUND

Osmeña claimed that Labella’s walkout from the council he presided was a refusal to respect democracy and allow the project to be discussed in the City Council.

“This is the future of Cebu. The revenue from this project will support the senior citizens, the city scholars, and all our other services for the next 50 years and beyond. What have you done for the Cebuanos? Nothing, because you are a destroyer. But that is okay, because I can still build faster than you can destroy. Imagine what I can build without you,” said Osmeña through his post.

Despite the disagreement over how beneficial the project will be to Cebu City, work on the Isla dela Victoria continues.

To recall,  the decision of Labella and other opposition councilors to leave last August’s session did not stop the majority councilors belonging to BO-PK from approving the resolution that authorized Osmeña to enter into a JVA with UHRI.

On August 17, Osmeña signed the JVA with UHRI sealing the deal for the Kawit Island project.

The opposition camp filed two cases against the city government, but they failed to secure a temporary restraining order  that would halt the project.

On December 22, 2018, the construction began in the 8-hectare property./dbs

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TAGS: Barug, BO-PK, Edgardo Labella, Facebook post, Isla dela Victoria, joint venture, SRP, Tomas Osmeña, UHRI

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