Divided Cebu City Council agrees to make changes in Carbon Market JVA
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Council agreed to draft a supplementary memorandum of agreement (MOA) to the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) for the Carbon Modernization project between the city government and Megawide Construction Corp.
This after a seven-hour grueling session, the City Council’s pro-administration majority floor and opposition bloc, minority floor, went head-on in their debate as to whether the City Council should rescind the contract or fix it instead since Vice Mayor Michael Rama has pointed out certain issues in the contract.
The most pressing issue was the proposed amendment of the Market Code of the City because the vendor groups were allegedly not consulted for such.
Megawide representatives and the vendors were both invited for the public hearing of the amendments in the market code as proposed by Councilor Renato Osmeña Jr.
Megawide claimed that they conducted a series of consultations with the vendors and the price for the stall rental is even lower in the proposed Market Code amendment as compared to the current rent. They assured that the agreed-upon rate will remain steady for the next three years.
The council has decided to further study the amendments and encouraged more dialogues between the stakeholders. They also decided to defer the proposal to the Public Market Oversight Committee for now.
However, the public hearing became a prelude to an even larger debate over the JVA between the city government and Megawide as Vice Mayor Michael Rama delivered a privilege speech appealing for curative measures regarding the deficiencies of the contract.
“Rather than spending time in trading barbs, the adoption of a remedial and curative approach is always a better alternative,” said Rama.
The vice mayor pointed out the following issues in the JVA: (1) the ability of the proponent to carry out the project, (2) ownership of the parcels of land involved in the JVA, (3) completeness of the process in entering a JVA, (4) assurance for a better living for Bato Ermita residents, (5) concerns about the management of market fees and charges and security of the vendors and other stakeholders.
These were the very same concerns of a multisectoral group that filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) in court to stop the project.
The vice mayor said he already received a copy of the case, and he knows that they will one day be called to the court.
While the Council still has a chance to fix the problem, Rama believes they should act before the court stops them from doing anything to affect the current contract.
He appealed to the City Council to create an MOA that would supplement the JVA and address the deficiencies in the originally signed contract.
“I cannot let the Carbon Redevelopment Project commence and just be stopped later for failure to address a direct issue or for failing to give time for the administration to clarify the same,” he added.
Yet this appeal did not sit well with minority floor members including Councilor Nestor Archival who said that the deficiencies of the JVA cannot be fixed by mere curative measures.
“This is just the curative thing that you have submitted. If the contract is problematic, then we should rescind it,” said Archival.
However, Rama said he does not want to rescind the contract at all because he believes in the project, but there are certain provisions in the JVA that just needs to be addressed.
Majority floor leader, Councilor Raymond Garcia, said that the adoption of the MOA does not mean it will be automatically approved because once the City Council drafts this, it will go to the executive department including the JVA Selection Committee, and Megawide, before returning to the City Council for final approval.
The minority floor including Councilors Archival, Alvin Dizon, Raul Alcoseba, Franklyn Ong, Leah Japson, Joy Augustus, Eugenio Gabuya, Jr., and Jessica Resch objected to adopt the MOA or make any changes to the current JVA unless it was to rescind it.
However, they were outnumbered by the majority bloc, 9-8, in the voting, favoring the adoption of the MOA as a supplementary measure to the JVA.
Councilor Philip Zafra was the lone councilor who approved the adoption but specifically stated that he only wants supplementary measures and improvements but not curative measures as he believes there is no deficiency to the current JVA.
The supplementary MOA will be drafted by the Council after studying the current form of the JVA, which will then be reviewed by the executive department and Megawide before the final approval, which will still be in the hands of the City Council. /rcg
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