Ombudsman upgrades Saavedra complaint against Tomas Osmeña, 9 others over Kawit Island deal

By: Wenilyn B. Sabalo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 14,2022 - 09:00 AM

An aerial view of a part of the Kawit Island in the South Road Properties that Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc.(UHRI) proposes to develop with the Cebu City government in this 2018 photo. | CDN FILE PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has upgraded for preliminary investigation the complaint of businessman Crisologo Saavedra against former officials of Cebu City government over the controversial P18-billion Kawit Island deal.

In its letter dated April 27, 2022,  the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas informed Saavedra that his complaint against former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his City Council during that time, for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 3019 and for the Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, had already been upgraded for preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication before its Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication and Prosecution Bureau (PIAAPB).

The other respondents for Crisologo’s complaints are former City Councilor Margarita Osmeña, Councilors Dave Tumulak, Sisinio Andales, Alvin Arcilla, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Gerry Guardo, Joy Augustus Young, Mary Ann Delos Santos, and Franklyn Ong,

“The proceedings before PIAAB may result to a finding of probable cause for the charging of criminal case/s in court against the respondents as well as finding of administrative liability for imposition of appropriate disciplinary penalty upon the respondents, if warranted by evidence,” reads a portion of the letter signed by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente.

Meanwhile, Saavedra, on June 10, also filed supplemental and amended complaint against Tomas Osmeña and his allies regarding the same P18-billion development through resort and casino of what used to be Kawit Island at the South Road Properties undertaken by the city in Osmeña’s time.

The agreement, according to Saavedra, is a “sweetheart deal” and “grossly disadvantageous” to the city. According to the resolution approved by the City Council, the city government is only entitled to a 10 percent profit share when its capital investment in the venture is worth P10 billion out of P18 billion.

Saavedra in his supplemental complaint filed on June 10, claimed that the developer that the City has entered an agreement with is ineligible to enter into the joint venture with the city due to a lack of technical and financial capabilities or experiences required by City Ordinance No. 2154.

He also claimed that the term of contract with Cebu City and the developer is more than 50 years and is “in violation of the RA 7718, Sec. 2b implementing rules and regulations as amended on May 5, 1994.

According to Saavedra, Osmeña also lacked City Council authority when he signed the agreement with UHRI after the resolution sponsored by Gabuya was rejected on May 11, 2018.

Saavedra then requested that the anti-graft office suspend the respondents who are still in public office for six months. He also said that to protect the City government from “further damages” the contract between the developer of the Kawit Island and the Cebu City should also be rectified as the current contract is “very disadvantageous” to the City of Cebu.


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TAGS: Cebu city government, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña, Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas

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