CICC: Cebu’s lost gem?

By: Jobers Reynes Bersales April 08,2019 - 07:00 AM

Former Cebu governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia, who is aiming to reclaim the governorship of Cebu, minced no words in saying that someone will be held to account for the sorry state of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).

In last Friday’s Klaruhay Ta Mega Cebu Candidates Forum she made clear her indignation at the politicking that has attended this once-proud venue of the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2006. According to her, despite clearance made by the Commission on Audit indicating that no corruption attended its construction, a case was filed against her and some of her department heads as well as the contractor. That was later dismissed. However, during the time of President Benigno Aquino III, former Ombudsman Conchita Morales suddenly saw it fit to just simply revive the case and then committed blunders along the way.

Meanwhile, when Super Typoon Yolanda struck, some sections of the metal cladding that covered the outer walls of the edifice fell down, creating scars on the façade. Sadly, instead of rehabilitating this historic venue, Gov. Hilario Davide III, who is now running for vice governor, refused to do so even when told by the Office of the Ombudsman that he could do so while the case against Garcia was going on.

Garcia suspects that the scarred CICC was intended for optics: a good propaganda tool to simply show to those passing by how dilapidated the structure had become even though one of the most basic tasks of a chief executive is to maintain government infrastructure to the optimum. One reason was apparent: the provincial government under Davide had not insured the edifice!

Worse was yet to come for the CICC: instead of rehabilitating it, the province sold it for a pittance, just a mere 300 million pesos for a structure that cost about 800 million pesos to build in 2006. The buyer was the Mandaue City government, which then promptly sold it to a private firm.

This makes me wonder if it is still possible to get national historical marker for CICC, given the prominent international event (and other later foreign and local events of note) that have happened there. I believe that marking an edifice as a historic landmark is not only for structures that are 50 years or over. It is also for edifices that make their mark in the unfolding story of a place. And an event of such stature as the 12th summit of presidents and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may very well qualify for the CICC to be so recognized, even if it has changed ownership already.

The important thing is that, despite the scars now attending the building which I believe are quite easy to address, the entire structure is still standing. CICC’s historic value may have been diminished somewhat due to the ineptitude of those who took over after Garcia’s term had ended, but that should not dissuade the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to investigate and see if the CICC deserves a national marker.

It is not yet too late and I believe that if Gwendolyn Garcia wins in the upcoming May elections, the CICC may yet be saved.

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TAGS: Cebu columnists, CICC, columnist Jobers Bersales, Past forward

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