Governor says there’s no basis to remove CICC banner

Michael Vencynth H. Braga/RHM (The Freeman) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Despite being asked to do so, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III sees no reason to have the “NEVER AGAIN...” banner currently displayed at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) taken down.

Businessman Cris Saavedra earlier asked Davide to remove the banner, saying it may give a bad impression that Cebuanos are corrupt. Allowing the banner to stay, Saavedra also said, means consenting to have a government-owned facility used for political propaganda.

It was Saavedra who sued former Cebu governor now third district Representative Gwendolyn Garcia before the Ombudsman for the alleged overpricing of the CICC.

Davide, though, is allowing the huge banner to stay.

“But that’s his (Saavedra) opinion. I will study it. But that (banner) is a reminder to the people of Cebu nga kanang building is anomalous although legal ang construction, but its construction is marred with irregularities,” Davide told reporters.

He earlier confirmed that it was an anti-corruption group called Cebuanos for Good Governance and Development that set up the banner.

The group claimed to be an alliance of concerned individuals and organizations in Cebu.

Davide stood pat in his contention that the banner is covered under the exercise of the freedom of expression and that the message written on it coincides with the anti-corruption campaign of his administration.

He said he would meet the group next week to explain for its officials to explain their cause.

Another huge “Never Again” streamer has been placed at the CICC. This time, however, the words include the phrase “P840, 202,438.05 People’s Money Wasted!!!” The amount represents the cost of the facility, which has been standing idle after it suffered damage from the October 15 earthquake and November 8 super typhoon in 2013.

The facility was built during Garcia’s administration when Cebu was chosen in 2005 to host the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

The Davide administration is not keen on spending money for the repair of the building because the facility is a “monument of corruption”, it being the subject of a case filed before the Ombudsman.

Garcia, on the other hand, said in a statement that Davide’s “criminal neglect” of the CICC resulted to the loss of a “golden” opportunity.

Her brother Winston is running against Davide for governor in the 2016 elections

Garcia said she agrees that CICC is a waste of public funds, but only because the present governor has “deliberately allowed it to go to waste in his scheme to use it for his political propaganda.”

 “The CICC is indeed wasted funds due to Davide’s criminal and inexcusable neglect. Not only has he allowed what used to be a gleaming and earning pride of Cebu to decay and rot,” Garcia said.

“He has also wasted the Province of Cebu’s golden opportunities to host international and other huge events which would have earned for the Province millions and would have redound to more economic and tourism activities,” she added.

According to the former governor, one obvious example of this is the hosting of the APEC leaders meeting scheduled on the 18th to the 20th of November. (Cebu hosted APEC ministerial meetings from August to October this year.)

 “Had he bothered to repair and maintain the CICC, Cebu Province could now have been the proud host of this historic gathering of 21 countries. But no, he has chosen to waste P840,202,438.05 of public funds by purposely allowing the CICC to rot and decay for his own malicious political agenda,” Garcia said. —  (FREEMAN)

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