Cebu News

CEO fumes as mayor snubs contract signing

Garry B. Lao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The signing of the contract of lease between Talisay City Mayor Johnny De los Reyes and a private shipping company for the establishment of a fish port and a roll on, roll off port in the city did not push through yesterday.

This was because De los Reyes reportedly has some concerns in the agreement, especially the rent. The contract stipulates that Asian Marine Transport Corp. will be paying the city P800,000 per month.

City legal officer Alfredo Sipalay said De los Reyes wants a monthly rental of $1per square meter or a total of P1.098 million for the 24,846 square meter lot.

Asian Marine Transport Corp. President and CEO Paul Rodriguez could not believe the turn of events and was not able to hide his frustration.

“This city is sick. It’s the only LGU in Cebu that is very unprofessional,” Rodriguez said, tearing the check worth P 9.6 million that the company would have wanted to give the city as down payment.

Last February 3, the City Council authorized De los Reyes to enter into a contract of lease with Asian Marine Transport Corp. to lease out the 24,856 square meters of lot near the South Road Properties in Barangay San Roque for 25 years.

The contract signing was set at 10 a.m. yesterday and Rodriguez and his legal counsel arrived 15 minutes early. A few minutes after they arrived, Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante and Councilors Richard Francis Aznar, Aldin Diaz, Danilo Caballero, Raul Cabañero, Doroteo Emit, Edward Alesna and Dennis Basillote arrived at the session hall.

It was not until 20 minutes after when Sipalay and the mayor’s executive secretary, Solomon Paypa, arrived and asked Villarante and Rodriguez’s lawyer for a closed-door meeting.

After an hour, Villarante came out and informed Rodriguez that the signing of the agreement would no longer push through.

“I doubt the sincerity of the mayor… They invited us that the signing will be at 10:00 in the morning and we waited for two-hours. It’s a waste of time,” Rodriguez said before walking out of the session hall.

He said Talisay City is missing out on an opportunity

Villarante said he is hopeful that the matter would be threshed out eventually. “The mayor would like to thresh out some items of the contract,” he said.

In a separate interview, De los Reyes said he did not show up at the meeting because of issues he wants to resolve first. He said Asian Marine Transport is still the city’s choice to operate the facility.

Councilor Edward Alesna, chairman of the council’s committee on ways and means, said there were several prospective investors interested in leasing the property but Asian Marine Transport Corp. edged out the rest.

Prior to the incident, Rodriguez told reporters that their company will be invest P500 million and the facility will be operational within the year.

According to Rodriguez, their company is a domestic shipping corporation existing for more than 20 years. He said they own a fleet of container, passenger and RORO vessels and is considered one the country’s biggest shipping lines operating a container service in almost all of the big ports in the country.

Rodriguez said they will invest in the development, extension and completion of the RORO port in the area as they will make it as a major gateway to Cebu.

Rodriguez added that they will utilize the RORO port as a major logistic hub from Manila and Batangas to the entire Visayas and Mindanao, linking Talisay City directly to major destinations such as Manila, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Iloilo and Masbate. -/JMO (FREEMAN)












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