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Property dispute

By: Editorial March 20,2014 - 10:15 AM

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s comparison of the lot 917 deal  with Hotel Asia Inc. with the ongoing bidding war between Megawide and Filinvest over the Mactan Cebu International Airport expansion project may appear off tangent for some but it is no less  interesting.

The interesting part comes in Cebu City Hall’s admission that half of the advance payment made by Hotel Asia Inc. was given even before the lot was awarded and the amount was used to cover the yearend cash assistance to the city’s senior citizens.

Waterfront Hotel and Casino which is located near the lot and had been vocal about its interest to buy the property since 2005, protested the sale and asked for the bidding documents submitted by Hotel Asia,  claiming it wasn’t informed by the bidding.

The Waterfront claim was denied by Acting City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas, who said word was given to Waterfront to bid for the lot.

In turn, the City Council deferred a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a deed of sale with Hotel Asia for the property.

We’re not even talking about the Cebu provincial government which had so far politely asked the Cebu City government for a share of the proceeds so they can help the typhoon-stricken towns of northern Cebu.

The mayor was unperturbed by this development and said it’s up to the council to untangle this mess before making his own comparison between the hotel and airport deal.

Obviously, Rama wouldn’t have given the go signal to the lot deal if Hotel Asia Inc didn’t offer a substantial down payment for the property which they would develop, a rumored budget hotel that would certainly compete  and even affect Waterfront’s business.

It’s easy to deny Waterfront’s claims of not being informed and if this case goes to court, it would drag on for some time to the detriment of both Hotel Asia and Waterfront.

Not so with the Cebu City government or in this case the Rama administration which considered the lot deal as cushion to pay the seniors cash aid that was delayed due to lack of fund sources.

If not handled and resolved soon, the Hotel Asia-Waterfront deal would reflect badly on the Rama administration which is negotiating with a Japanese investor for a retirement facility at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Rama may likely blame the City Council’s refusal to approve his P10 billion budget for this property deal going south by claiming that they tied his hands in spending for projects like the seniors cash aid program despite not being able to elaborate on funding sources aside from continuing, unspent appropriations from previous  budgets. Cebu City residents may not care about the tug of war between these two hotel developers, but they would certainly take an interest over the future of their SRP whose economic potential would depend upon investors who are keen on how they are being treated by the city’s elected officials.

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TAGS: Cebu City, land dispute

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