WHO OWNS CICC BILLBOARD?
‘Lead convenor’ withdraws; Mandaue city ordinance requires permit, cash bond
Weeks after the giant “Never Again” billboard came up, the owner’s identity remains a question.
Mandaue City’s billboard committee, headed by Mayor Jonas Cortes, is looking for the party responsible for the yellow tarpaulins in front of the dilapidated Cebu International Convention Center which declare the building a “waste of people’s money” in the amount of P840.2 million.
No permit was applied for the outdoor signage.
A city ordinance requires a P1,000 to P5,000 bond and written authority from Mandaue City, which co-manages the CICC and owns the land.
A resolution will be issued next week by the Mandaue committee on billboards, formally asking the “owner” of the huge yellow tarpaulins to “submit” a permit and follow requirements, said lawyer
Jamaal Calipayan, the mayor’s executive assistant, who heads the committee in Cortes’s behalf.
So who’s in charge of the giant streamers, which Capitol critics call political sloganeering?
The “lead convenor” of the group that claimed to have mounted it, the Cebuanos for Good Governance and Development (CGGD), Mariel Kay Estrada, has stepped back from the public’s eye. (Read: Group surfaces, willing to remove CICC tarp if… )
She is “lying low” after all the controversy.
Renan Oliva, CGGD spokesman, said other convenors decided not to let her speak in public, at her own request.
“Nihangyo siya nga dili lang usa kay mahadlok siya sa iyang part,” said Oliva. (She begged off for now because she’s afraid.) He was part of the group of seven convenors, along with Estrada, who visited Gov. Hilario Davide III in his office last Thursday, for the first time to show that the group really existed.
Oliva said the group was formed three months ago, and would launch an anti-corruption campaign on November 28 in Cebu.
Estrada introduced herself as a member of Bisdak Pride Inc., an organization of gays or LGBT. Governor Davide told reporters later the new coalition included Bisdak Pride, Kabataan Partylist, a Cordova fishermen’s group, and individuals.
However, the next day, Cebu Daily News received an e-mail from Bisdak Pride’s executive director Roxanne Omega-Doron clarifying that their group was “not a convenor” of CGGD.
Doron said, however, the group won’t stop any member from joining an alliance that advocates important causes like anti-corruption. He said Estrada was a Bisdak Pride member and a “transgender woman”.
“Mariel Kay” is Estrada’s “trans name”, according to Doron, but said he doesn’t know what she was formerly called.
Oliva, meanwhile, said the CGGD core group would wait for its November 28 launch to disclose their names.
When the no-permit issue was raised, Oliva said, “Just in case their decision is to have it removed, we will take it down ourselves.”
Clear identification of the owner and a permit are required for billboards installed in Mandaue City in its 2009 ordinance regulating outdoor advertising billboards and structures.
There are also requirements to check height, distance from the road and other infrastructure, and the content of the signage.
By next week, the Mandaue committee on billboards will issue a resolution formally asking the “owner” of the huge yellow tarpaulins to “submit” its permit.
Calipayan said Mandaue staff called up the Capitol last Monday and were told that a “private group” put up the tarps, whose size and bright yellow hue make it visible to motorists several kilometers away.
“We asked them informally to submit to the permit process for billboards and outdoor signs,” Calipayan told Cebu Daily News.
The lawyer said Mayor Cortes was prompted to ask about the CICC billboards after a woman called his office asking if it had permit. The anonymous caller simply said she was an educator named
Gwen. Staff got the impression she was planning to bring it up to the Office of the Ombudsman, he said.
“At first we didn’t know anything about the banner. No one approached us for that. All we know is that if you want to enter the CICC, you have to ask the permission of the Capitol,” said Calipayan.
Governor Davide at first expressed surprise as well as Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino when asked about the sudden appearance of the billboards in late October. They said they didn’t know who put it up.
But Davide said he would keep the streamers there as part of “free expression” and because it jives with his advocacy of anti-corruption.
His office later released a letter dated October 26 from CGGD signed by Estrada, which simply declared it had “mounted a streamer” at the CICC as a “modern monument of corruption”. She did not seek permission.
The visitors record of the Capitol for November 12 showed that the six who called on Governor Davide were Oliva, Jaydar Medrozo, Roxanne Doron, Mariel Kay Estrada, Wilbert Dimol, Lee Marvin Morales and Alvin Traya.
TARGET YOUNG VOTERS
Oliva told CDN he is a full-time social worker for the national government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and was a former nominee of the Kabataan partylist. He said at present, he is only affiliated with the CGGD.
Oliva said their main objective is to educate young voters about the kind of leaders, both local and national, they should put in office.
This Friday, said Oliva, CGGD would have hosted a forum on the pork barrel scam with PDAF scam counsel Levi Baligod as guest speaker. But Baligod asked to move the activity to December.
In a press conference Wednesday, Governor Davide said he hasn’t heard from the group since their last visit.
Would he help the coalition get a permit from Mandaue City?
“It depends. They told me they were going to see Mayor (Jonas) Cortes. But I haven’t heard from them since.
CDN asked if Mandaue Mayor Cortes thinks the “Never Again” message positively promotes the cause of the Liberal Party, of which he is a member.
“As to the content of the sign, he never went into that. The mayor was just concerned that someone posted the signage but didn’t go through the Mandaue billboard committee,” said Calipayan, his executive assistant.
“Wala man giingon maka-promote sa LP. In fact wala siyay gibutang diha any attribution to any group or party nga makaila ka nga ‘ah LP na’.”
(In fact, there’s nothing there to attribute it as something from the LP.) The billboard committee itself is more concerned with any possible immoral or scandalous content on display, he said.
They also follow rules of the DPWH on billboard installation.
Members of the Mandaue billboard committee include Councilors Diosdado Suico and Elstone Dabon, city department heads Architect Florentino Nimor Jr., Architect Karl Cabilao and Engr. Roberto Ranile. From the private sector are Mary Anne Alcordo-Solomon and Eric Ng Mendoza.
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