Charges filed against Labella, Rama, other city execs for Carbon modernization
CEBU CITY, Philippines — A group of Cebu City residents has filed charges of grave misconduct and corruption against Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Vice Mayor Michael Rama, some City Council members, and other city officials over the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) the city made with Megawide Construction Corp. for the renovation of the Carbon Market.
In an 85-paged joint complaint-affidavit, at least 11 residents of Cebu City, filed the charges to the Office of the Ombudsman last June 2021, but copies were furnished to the media only in September 7, 2021.
The complainants petitioned for the preemptive suspension of Labella; Rama; Councilors Raymond Garcia, Joel Garganera, James Cuenco, Donaldo Hontiveros, Niña Mabatid, Renato Osmeña, Jr., Jerry Guardo, and Dave Tumulak; and other city officials especially those in the Joint Venture Selection Committee (JVSC).
The complainants argued that these city officials have committed grave misconduct and possible corruption for pushing through with a JVA when allegedly it has not gone through the proper process and even if it was “grossly disadvantageous to the city.
The arguments of the aggrieved party is similar to that of the case filed by Carbon Alliance in a Cebu City court to nullify the JVA between Megawide and Cebu City because of the “many deficiencies” of the contract.
The complainants contested that the city officials have to be held liable for pushing through with the JVA even if they were “aware” of these alleged deficiencies.
Primarily, they pointed out that Carbon Market’s Blocks 3 and 4 are owned by the national government with a proclamation order that Cebu City administrates the properties. The city government, they say, has no power of dominion over the properties.
Block 6 is a national government property with the administration given to the Cebu City Port Authority (CPA), and a portion of the area, Sitio Bato, has been declared an Urban Land Reform Zone in the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.
The city government also passed an ordinance declaring Sitio Bato as a slum improvement and resettlement area.
The complainants also questioned the passing of the JVA stating that only 10 days were given for counterproposals to be filed and that the contract was awarded to a company that may not have the financial capacity to undergo the project.
Megawide has already addressed the issue in the past saying they are capable of financing the project and that they went through the proper process in winning the JVA.
The complainants asked the Ombudsman to preemptively suspend the city officials included in the charge as they believe their continuous service may hamper the investigation.
City Administrator Floro Casas, Jr., who heads the JVSC, told CDN Digital in a text message that they are not worried about this case at the Ombudsman.
“Nothing to worry because the transaction is above board and we did nothing illegal or irregular. Ila man na right mofile, we respect that, but we will not be cowed by the filing of these cases because this project will definitely benefit Cebu City and the Cebuanos,” he said.
The Ombudsman case is the second case filed by civilian complainants against the Carbon Modernization project.
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