Cebu News

Balili property ‘not useless’

Lorraine Mitzi A. Ambrad - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Should the Cebu provincial government dispose of the 25-hectare Balili property in the City of Naga?

Although he did not categorically state his stance, Provincial General Services Office (GSO) head Jone Sepe believes the property is not totally useless to the Capitol.

Sepe made the remarks amid a proposal from the city government of Naga to buy the property, which still awaits an official word from the Capitol.

Bought during the administration of former governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Balili property became controversial when it was found out that at least 9.4 hectares of it were either submerged underwater or covered with mangroves.

However, Sepe said that although the property did not serve its original purpose, it became somehow useful to at least three offices in the provincial government: the GSO, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), and the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO).

Sepe said that under an agreement between the Capitol and the Department of Energy (DOE), a portion of the lot is also being used as a storage area for confiscated butane canisters and other paraphernalia.

Such items, he said, need to be distanced from other materials or residential areas because they are flammable.

Within the property, the PVO also maintains a breeding site for goats, which are distributed to local farmers, while the PAO also runs a vermiculture production facility in the area, as well as a demonstration area to culture bangus.

When asked if the Capitol should sell the property to Naga, Sepe said the decision will be up to Governor Hilario Davide III.

During her State of the City Address last year, City of Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong expressed the city’s desire to purchase the property and transform it into an economic zone.

In April this year, the City Council expressed to the provincial government the city’s interest to acquire the property.

Davide has yet to issue a statement regarding the city’s bid. But in September last year, he told reporters that he was favorable to the idea of selling the property.

“Kung ako lang, ibaligya ning Balili kay at the moment way gamit ang yuta didto. Naa tay hayupan sa province didto but I don’t see unsay beneficial purpose for the province. I'd rather nga i-dispose,” he said back then.

As of the moment, however, the Capitol has yet to send an official response to the city government of Naga, something that has disappointed Chiong’s father, former Naga mayor Valdemar Chiong. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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