An aerial photo of the site at the Capitol compound where the controversial resource center will be constructed.
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal
Resource center hangs in balance
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - May 16, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The fate of the controversial P1.3 billion Capitol Resource Center looks grim now that Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia is poised to return to the provincial government as governor.

Yesterday, Garcia said the project will not be in her program of government.  

"I am issuing a warning to the contractor, even to the DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) that this provincial resource center will not be in my program of government so they better re-think their plans ahead," Garcia said.

Even as congresswoman, Garcia has opposed the project for allegedly being anomalous. She and Board Member Alex Binghay filed an injunction case in court to stop its construction.

She also filed a separate case before the Ombudsman against Governor Hilario Davide; Vice Governor Agnes Magpale; Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino; WT Construction Vice President Willy U. Te; and Marissa Anino, head of DBP’s Cebu Lending Center.

Garcia said she will not spend that much money for a building that the province cannot use.

"First of all, we are not to take a loan. I had maintained the province as debt free during my first nine years. So, all of this will be reviewed," she said.

It was on May 7, 2018 when the Provincial Board passed and approved Resolution No. 1128-2018, which authorized Davide to enter into and sign an Omnibus Loan Term Agreement with DBP for a P1,525,000,000 loan to finance the construction of the 20-story building project.

Garcia said Davide allegedly had no authority to sign the Deed of Assignment with Hold-Out, a vital document or contract entered into by the province and DBP,

Davide also allegedly entered into a contract with WT Construction without authority from the Provincial Board.

Garcia said the project also violates the National Cultural Heritage Act because it can deform the look of the Capitol Building, which is a National Historical Landmark, as the resource center is being built right beside the Capitol building.

Touted as the “flagship” project of Davide’s administration as governor, the project broke ground on February 18. It is meant to be a multi-purpose, commercial building that will also house some offices of the provincial government.

CICC

Meanwhile, Garcia reiterated that she will run after those responsible for the sale of the equally controversial Cebu International Convention Center.

"Someone or some people will have to answer for that, and it's not going to be me," Garcia said.

It was last year when the provincial government, under Davide’s leadership, sold the CICC to Mandaue City for P300 million.

"The province was put at a huge disadvantage," Garcia said.

The CICC was built to hold meetings and events during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2007.

After the ASEAN Summit, the CICC became the venue for other international events, conventions, and exhibits, which drew economic marketability to many Cebuanos businesses.

In 2013, the CICC was damaged by the magnitude 7.2 magnitude earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda but Davide said the province was not willing to spend for its repair. The CICC ended up as a temporary shelter for survivors of fire in Mandaue City.

"They allowed it to decay, they left it at such dilapidated state that, finally, it started to look like a huge mound of trash," Garcia said.— JMO (FREEMAN)

GWENDOLYN GARCIA
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