Rama: Review contract Margot, Tomas signed
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - September 16, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has directed the City Legal Office to review the 50-year contract of lease now City Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña and former mayor Tomas Osmeña had entered into for the Parian Drop-In Center on Sikatuna Street.

Rama questioned the signing of the contract, which he tagged as “conjugal partnership,” as it may create conflict of interest.

“Sakto ba nga ang contract of lease ang bana ug asawa? Dili man ta makig-away ba… Nagsugod man sad sila nga dili mao….  Palihug kaatbang, this is clear conjugal partnership,” he told reporters yesterday.

Rama likewise presented to the media documents relating to the lease, such as the copy of the contract signed July 8, 1991 and the resolution that authorized both parties to enter into the deal.

The November 6, 1989 resolution authorized Tomas to enter into a contract of lease on behalf of the city with the Children of Cebu Foundation, Inc. represented by its chairperson Councilor Osmeña.

The city-owned 1,358-square-meter lot in Barangay Parian was exclusively intended to be used for a drop-in center for street children.

According to the two-page contract, the lease will run for 50 years renewable for a period agreed by both parties.

Rama likewise pointed out that the resolution provided amendments to the draft of the contract of lease, changing the phrase “P1 per square meter” found in the second paragraph of the witness’s portion into “P1 per year.”

“That for and in consideration of the sum of P1 per year and for the benefit of the street children of Cebu City, which is the essence of [CCFI’s] obligation and purpose of existence which further, the [city government] is only too conscious and deeply, concerned in, the [city government] hereby voluntarily, freely transfers and conveys by way of lease unto [CCFI]…,” read a copy of the contract obtained by Rama.

“In good faith, we will bring this (information) to the City Attorney (Jerone Castillo)…to the City Legal,” said Rama.

He said he was not after the signatories, who are his former political allies. He said he was concerned over the implications if the city would intervene in developing the drop-in center.

At present, the drop-in center could cater to a maximum of 50 children three to 17 years old for females and until 12 years old for males.

Sought for her comment, Councilor Osmeña said that “if there is something wrong with it, I would like to find out. If there’s something illegal, I will deal with it… If there is something wrong, I am grateful of the opportunity to help the thousands of street children in the past 26 years.”

Earlier, Rama said he wanted to rehabilitate the two-storey facility by redesigning it to accommodate more floors. If this is not possible, he said, the city may look for another site for the facility.

Councilor Osmeña, on the other hand, expressed gratitude on Rama’s plans to improve the facility, but reminded that the Commission on Audit does not allow local government units using public funds for the benefit of a non-government organization whose officials include a public official .

“Since the president (Councilor Osmeña)…is likewise a member of the city council, COA rules that no government funds will be allowed to be used for the benefit of the foundation, as per COA ruling on Clavel Asas-Martinez case on Girls Scout of the Philippines funds – in 2013,” said Department of Social Welfare and Services Chief Ester Concha, in a report.

She, however, also said that the city has been allocating a budget of P2.42 million for the drop-in center even up to the present.

The amount is coursed through to the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children, which is also a partner in operating the drop-in center and even holds office there. —/RHM (FREEMAN)

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