Crisologo Saavedra wants Tomas Osmeña, allies suspended
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - February 15, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has started investigation into the complaint filed against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his allies in the City Council over the P18-billion development of what used to be the Kawit Island at the South Road Properties.

Crisologo Saavedra, who claims to be an anti-graft advocate, lodged criminal and administrative complaints last month against the city officials, saying the joint venture agreement (JVA) the city entered into with developer Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI) was grossly disadvantageous to the city.

“I will request for clarificatory hearing to fast-track the investigation of this transaction and to request for preventive suspensions of Osmeña and the city councilors,” he told The FREEMAN yesterday.

Saavedra said he already received a letter from the Ombudsman informing him that his complaints against the officials for violation of Section 3 (e) and (g) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and conduct unbecoming of a public office are now under fact-finding investigation.

In a fact-finding investigation, an investigator will evaluate the complaint and thereafter direct the other party to answer the allegations filed against them.

Aside from Osmeña, the other named respondents are Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) allies at the council: David Tumulak, Margarita Osmeña, Sisinio Andales, Alvin Arcilla, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Jerry Guardo, Joy Augustus Young, Mary Ann Delos Santos, and Franklyn Ong.

The private respondents are UHRI president Frederick Go and the company’s board of directors.

Go earlier said that the proposed project will further boost tourist arrivals, increase commercial activities, and encourage more investments in Cebu City.

UHRI expects to hire at least 5,000 people during and after the construction of the structures.

But Saavedra, in his complaint, alleged the JVA was disadvantageous to the city because the latter will only be entitled to a 10-percent profit share despite its capital investment to the venture being P10 billion, which is more than half of the P18 billion outlay.

He added that the UHRI is not qualified to enter into the joint venture since it lacks technical and financial capabilities or experiences as required under the City Ordinance No. 2154, which prescribes guidelines and procedures for entering into joint venture agreements with private entities.

Saavedra also asked the anti-graft office to declare illegal and cancel the JVA entered into by Cebu City and UHRI.

In an earlier interview, Osmeña said politics could be behind the administrative and criminal complaints filed against him and his allies.

“Everything’s politically motivated. Even my doing for the people is politically motivated. That’s my politics. My politics is to build,” the mayor told reporters last January 10.

Osmeña, however, welcomed the filing of the complaint, saying it will inform the public about the veracity of the project.

“It will create 5,000 jobs. They cannot see that. The payroll of 5,000 mga tao is more or less P1.2 billion a year. So mosyagit sila alkanse ang syudad? Dili financially qualified ang Gokongwei? Bogo ang mga tao?” he said. (And now they will say the city is shortchanged? Are the people dumb?)

To be called the Isla de la Victoria, the development will lead to the establishment of integrated resorts and casino on the nine-hectare SRP property. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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