Cebu News

Davide confirms CICC sale

Kristine B. Quintas - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III has confirmed that the Capitol is selling the controversial Cebu International Convention Center to Manduae City for P350 million.

Davide said the amount, which was agreed last year by the province and former mayor Jonas Cortes, was already a good deal considering that the building was "overpriced" and has been sitting idled for years.

A memorandum of agreement is expected to be entered into between the provincial government and the city government soon. Davide, however, said that he has yet to check the MOA. The amount will be paid in four to five tranches. The city aims to pay the full amount by 2019.

 Davide said that P75 million is expected as first payment upon the signing of the MOA, which would be submitted to the Provincial Board for approval, before the year ends.

 The PB also has to pass a resolution authorizing the governor to enter into an agreement with Mandaue City. Davide hopes to get the approval of the PB considering that majority of its members are his political allies.

"Mandaue City government has the right to first refusal being the owner of the CICC lot. It's logical nga atong ibaligya sa tag-iya sa yuta ang building," he said. 

 The CICC building is owned by the Capitol while the lot where the facility stands is owned by Mandaue City government.

 Davide said the proceeds of the sale would be spent for the province's basic services, such as the upgrade and improvement of hospitals, construction of school buildings and water systems, food security and peace and order as well the Capitol's operational expenses.

 Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing earlier said they are eyeing at developing CICC through a Public-Private Partnership. He believes that the 9.2-hectare area will attract developers.

Before he was elected mayor last May, Quisumbing told The Freeman he wants to tear the existing structure down and replace it with a commercial and convention center to attract investors to spur tourism in Mandaue, an area that is not exactly the city's strength.

 The city government first expressed interest in buying the property in 2014, but initial talks did not prosper. Davide said the offer of the Department of Trade and Industry to buy the CICC is no longer feasible.

"As far as DTI offer is concerned, wa na gyod to kay we have new administration naman. We tried to follow up it before but wa man gyod nahitabo," he said. 

In the middle of 2015, the provincial government and DTI had talked about turning the CICC into a Center for Industry and Trade Exposition (CITEX) with the latter spending for the project.

 Former president Benigno Aquino III expressed interest in the property during a Labor Day visit last year. During the occasion the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) asked Aquino for a space to display local furniture products.

 Davide said he still have to check with Mandaue City government if it can set aside portion of the building for MCCI.

 The facility has been standing idle for almost two years after it suffered severe damage from the October 15, 2013 earthquake and the November 8, 2013 super typhoon Yolanda. It was estimated to need around P160 million for its restoration and upgrade.

 Davide is not keen on spending money for the repair of the building that was once described as a "monument of corruption" by the critics of then governor now third district Representative Gwendolyn Garcia. 

The CICC was built during Garcia's administration for the 2007 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. The Capitol spent over P800 million for the project. It is currently subject of a graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan against Garcia and 11 other Capitol officials. (FREEMAN)

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