NEW BATTLE OVER SRP

Posted on July 19, 2012

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City Council moves to block mayor’s power to sell SRP lots
 

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Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is on a collision course again with his “unfriendly” City Council over the South Road Properties (SRP).

To tie his hands in selling any part of the 295-hectare reclaimed land, the Council yesterday approved an ordinance prohibiting the mayor or any other city representative from disposing of SRP lots or advertising it for sale or public bidding without prior approval of the City Council.

Rama, in reaction, said he might veto the ordinance.

He said it was a needless duplication of the Local Government Code which already requires the mayor to secure the council’s authority before negotiating for disposal or sale of property.

Large-scale projects like SM’s 40-hectare Seaside City are set to open in 2014 while Filinvest’s Citta di Mari condominiums and retail strips are also under construction in SRP.

Rama’s allies were not present when the measure was presented by Councilor Noel Wenceslao for final deliberation yesterday morning.

The ordinance is entitled “An ordinance protecting the South Road Properties and its stakeholders from unlawful and unauthorized transactions and dealings.”

In his opening remarks, Wenceslao said the SRP was the target of a court garnishment order over the Rallos lawsuit and that everyone was aware of the mayor’s desire to sell a portion of the SRP.

“The selling of SRP should be done but in a proper and appropriate time,” he said.

In an interview, Wenceslao said the city should wait until after the completion of SM and Filinvest projects.

“With the SM mall the price of land would appreciate by as much as P40,000 per square meter,” said Wenceslao.

The mall complex, which will include an international convention enter and hotels, is projected to be bigger than SM Mall of Asia and involves an investment of P8.5 billion.

The city ordinance sets rules for the disposal of SRP lots:

1. Unsolicited proposals from investors or stakeholders are welcome and will be evaluated based on its merits (Section 2)

2. Without prior authority from the City Council, no person or city employee or official is authorized to sell, dispose, or advertise or publish for sale or invite parties for public bidding of SRP lots (Section 3)

3. An exception is made for the Cebu Investment Promotions Center (CIPC) which “shall continue performing its task as the primary marketing arm of the SRP.”

4. Any unauthorized transaction shall be null and void ab initio or from the start (Section 4)

5. City officials and employees are prohibited from purchasing SRP property or having a financial interest in any transaction in connection with the SRP (Section 5)
Wenceslao said he believes the ordinance is not redundant but “is an enabling law that provides a map, drawing or chart” on how SRP lots should be handled.

Mayor Rama, in his noon time press conference, said that if the approved ordinance is a mere duplication of the LGC, this will only show the “ignorance” of council members.

He also questioned the council’s failure to call for a public hearing.

“That’s wrong. We are talking about a very important issue. They do not own the SRP. The people own the SRP,” said Rama.

“I want to see a copy of the ordinance first but if I have a reason to veto I can veto the ordinance,” he said.

Aware that the council can easily override his veto with a two-thirds vote, Rama said he has other avenues to object to it “but that will be disclosed at the proper time.” /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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