The Big 3 should rise above it
Has Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama outsmarted the City Council?
He seems quite happy with the results of his lightning trip to Manila, where he handcarried notices of award for the highest bidders for two lots of the South Road Properties (SRP).
When the award ceremony was cancelled last Friday, everyone just sighed over what was lamented as a missed opportunity.
That ceremony was supposed to have seen the Cebu City government receiving P6.7 billion as 50 percent down payment from the SM-Ayala consortium and Filinvest Land Inc in exchange for the Notice of Award from City Hall to developers so they could go ahead with their plans to bring life to the SRP.
The first Friday Mass with city employees continued without a big thanksgiving.
The hastily cancelled ceremony was thought to be the impact of the deadly arrow of Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) which dominates the City Council. Critics of Mayor Mike Rama are determined to make sure that nothing will be sold in the city’s prime real estate project without their say-so.
The last-minute cancellation came on the heels of the Cebu City Council’s voting 10 to 3, urging Mayor Rama to defer any action on the SRP sale. They doubt he has authority to auction the reclaimed land.
The weightier question now is what do the Big 3 developers think?
Are they getting cold feet with the skirmishes in City Hall for their bid to commercially develop parcels of the SRP?
The council invokes a legal opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) which said a resolution that authorized the mayor to negotiate with developers can’t supersede an ordinance passed by the council that identifies the ideal mode of disposal as unsolicited proposals rather than a public bidding.
This is a matter for lawyers to sort out, an issue that should have been settled a long time ago and can be treated separately.
In the meantime, three of the country’s biggest names in real estate development are at the doorstep of Cebu City, waiting and paying big money to get in, after following all requirements of a public bidding conducted in full transparency.
Can the city get a better collection of players to invest in the SRP for the long term?
We don’t think so.
And we hope their appetite to proceed and build something great for Cebu City rises above the predictable intramurals in City Hall.
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