COA requires ‘responsible officials’ to explain CICC sale
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed the Cebu Provincial Government to require officials responsible for the sale of the controversial Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) to explain the disposal of the property without heeding to existing COA regulations.
In 2018, the provincial government, under the administration of former governor and now Vice-Governor Hilario Davide III, sold the structure to the Mandaue City government for P300 million.
The P800-million worth CICC was built during Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s earlier stint as governor in 2006 to be used as venue for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit in 2007.
But in 2013, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and a super typhoon (Yolanda) rendered the CICC severely dilapidated. It has not been repaired and has been abandoned since then.
In 2017, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Sangguniang Panlungsod authorized the sale of the property to the city of Mandaue, represented by its then-mayor Luigi Quisumbing.
Along with the authority to sell, the agreement between the province and city allowing the former to use the 3.8-hectare city-owned land where the CICC stands, was also terminated.
COA has questioned the sale of the property “through negotiations with the city of Mandaue” with the absence of failed biddings.
Under the provision on the disposal of real estate and their improvements in Section 197 of COA Circular no. 2017-003, the sale of a property must undergo sealed bidding or negotiation if the sealed bids failed, with the selling price determined by the Committee on Awards.
“The document embodying the provision of the agreement did not mention any failed biddings previously conducted prior to the decision of the parties to enter into the said mutual agreement,” the COA noted.
On October 2, 2018, the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed, effectively transferring the ownership of the edifice to Mandaue City, after the city completed the staggered payment of P300 million.
However, COA said the province failed to secure the required COA approval prior to the execution of the Deed of Absolute sale, preventing the agency to review “the reasonableness of the selling price as well as the propriety and conformity of the sale with existing regulations.”
According to COA, the provincial government, under Garcia, furnished them a letter addressed to Davide on December 12, 2019, asking the latter to comment or explain the audit observation considering that the transaction was made during his term in office.
CDN Digital tried to reach Davide through the Vice Governor’s Office but no response has been made as of this posting.
COA said that during their exit conference, Garcia has instructed the provincial administrator to send a follow-up letter to Davide as they have not received a reply from the earlier communication sent. /bmjo
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