CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday said he would propose allocating P350 million for the city to purchase province-owned lots affected by Provincial Ordinance No. 93-1 but will not intervene in lot negotiations with the Capitol.
With the Dec. 19 suspension of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, the status of negotiations with urban poor lot occupants who want to buy the land remains uncertain.
Rama rejected a lot swap proposed by the City Council.
“That (lot swap) is a far-fetched orientation. Ari ta sa kaya nato nga mahimo (Let’s do something within our reach),” the mayor said in a press conference.
He repeated that his administration “is committed to reach a solution on the tenurial rights of 93-1 occupants.”
“We are now making a formal intention to acquire 93-1 properties to unburden the province of the nuisance of dealing with the homeowners,” he said.
A P50 million outlay is already part of the city’s 2012 budget as a standby fund in case the city’s intervention is needed in ongoing re-negotiations between the Cebu provincial government and 93-1 occupants.
Another P100 million is being proposed in the 2013 budget.
Rama said he was aware lot occupants can’t afford the updated real estate price.
Property in barangay Busay for example cost P400 per sq. meters when Ordinance 93-1 was passed by the province in 1993 allowing occupants to buy the land by installment. The same land is valued at P3,330 per square meter today.
“We won’t abandon 93-1 occupants,” Rama said.
The mayor said he could ask the council to approve another P200 million outlay next year to raise P350 million to set aside as initial funds for acquiring lots.
However, negotiations will have to be made between the city and provincial government. Fixing the lot price will not necessarily be based on the province’s re-computation of the 93-1 lot cost, he said.
Rama said he shares the desire of governor Gwen Garcia to resolve the 93-1 controversy before his term ends on June 2013. /Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac