After seeking the nullification of 45.5-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) lot sale, the allies of outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña in the City Council passed another resolution preventing the city government from using the payment of the giant developers.
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Osmeña’s allies want payments voided, too
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - June 12, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — First they tried to nullify the sale. This time, the payments.

After seeking the nullification of 45.5-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) lot sale, the allies of outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña in the City Council passed another resolution preventing the city government from using the payment of the giant developers.

In an 8-4-1, the City Council approved the resolution of Councilor Sisinio Andales despite the objection of the opposition and the abstention of Councilor David Tumulak.

In his approved resolution, Andales said the payment from the giant firms—Ayala Land, Cebu Holdings Inc., SM Prime Holdings and Filinvest Land Inc.— that bought the controversial lot should not be used by the city government since it is deemed void after the legislative body also passed a resolution “declaring, confirming, and affirming” the contracts as void ab initio or invalid from the beginning.

“That since the above-mentioned payments are deemed void, the Sanggunian hereby declares that the funds or payments made in relation thereto cannot be used by the city government nor it can be appropriated by the latter,” read portion of the approved resolution.

The councilors who voted in favor of the resolution were Andales, Margarita Osmeña, Jessica Resch, Jerry Guardo, Eugenio Gabuya, Jr., Alvin Arcilla, Joy Augustus Young, and Franklyn Ong.

Those who voted against the approval of the resolution were Councilors Raymond Alvin Garcia, Jocelyn Pesquera, Joel Garganera, and James Anthony Cuenco.

Tumulak, for his part, abstained from voting since he was the presiding officer of the session last week when the resolution requesting the City Council to file declaratory relief of the Negotiated Sales on Installment was passed.

Garcia said the contracts between the city government and the consortium of Ayala Land, Cebu Holdings Inc. and SM Prime Holdings that bought the 26.3-hectare and Filinvest Land Inc. that bought the 19.2 hectare lot have been consummated.

“The only entity that can declare, confirm and affirm such contract to be void ab initio is only our courts of law. We have no jurisdiction, we have no authority and we have no power whatsoever to declare, confirm, and affirm a consummated contract as being void ab initio,” he said.

Pesquera said the filing of resolution about the SRP lot sale has been part of the agenda after the elections, stressing that it is like a “saga” already.

She recalled that the budget office, during the budget hearing in the previous years, admitted that the city government is using the interest out of the payment from the giant developers which means that the appropriation of the city might be affected if the resolution will be passed.

In 2015, the city sold the 45.2-hectare lot at SRP amounting to P16.7 billion. Developers made a 50-percent down payment in August 2015 amounting to P8.35 billion.

In 2016, the city got P3 billion which was the first installment from the developers, but the outgoing ordered not to utilize the money since the mayor is planning to rescind the contract.

Some P4 billion of the total P11 billion received by the city government has been used to fund the appropriation in 2016.

Garganera said the legislative body seemed to usurp the authority of the judiciary as it keeps on approving resolution declaring the contracts as void ab initio.

Garganera added that the Court of Appeals (CA) had already ruled upon the validity and legality of the lot sale by the previous administration.

Andales, for his part, said the decision of the CA on the case filed by Romulo Torres is not yet final and executory.

“I’m just asking in this resolution that the money which is now in the hands of the City Treasurer’s Office will not be used unless there is finality of judgment,” he said.

Mayor-Elect Edgardo  Labella has been vocal about his stand that he will allow the giant developers to implement the projects as approved in 2015 despite the reservations of the outgoing administration. (FREEMAN)

TOMAS OSMEñA
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