I’m not at fault for SRP project delay – Osmeña

Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña has stood firm that he cannot be held criminally liable for questioning the sale of the controversial 45-hectare lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) to three giant developers in 2015.

"I respectfully submit that I cannot be held criminally liable for questioning the contracts entered into by then mayor (Michael) Rama and the SM-Ayala Consortium and the Filinvest Group,” said Osmeña who was sued by the former barangay captain of Apas for graft and corruption.

Osmeña, in his counter-affidavit submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, said he should not blamed for the delay in the development of the property, contrary to the claims of Ramil Ayuman.

On September 19, 2019, Ayuman filed charges of graft and corruption against Osmeña for allegedly delaying deliberately the development of the 45-hectare property sold to the SM-Ayala consortium and Filinvest, causing the loss of investment opportunities, jobs, and taxes.

Ayuman said Osmeña’s move was done in “bad faith.”

Osmeña contended that the contracts were “invalid” because Rama was not authorized by the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) to enter into the agreements.

“The questioned contracts are in fact VOID ab initio because there was NO CONSENT given by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cebu for the questioned contracts," read a portion of Osmeña's counter-affidavit.

In his affidavit, Osmeña also said Ayuman’s allegations showed that he is "conveniently oblivious" of the facts surrounding the contracts entered into between the city and the developer giants.

The former mayor said the SP passed a resolution specifically forbidding Rama from signing the contracts and receiving payments from the developer giants in August 2015.

The resolution was passed two days before Rama signed the contracts with the SM-Ayala Consortium and the Filinvest Group. Rama is now the vice mayor.

He also claimed Ayuman was ignorant of the supplemental agreement signed between Rama and the consortium that the city must provide an ordinance ratifying the sale.

The supplemental agreement provides that the down payment for the sale shall only be released to the city after the City Council passed an ordinance confirming and ratifying the authority of the City of Cebu to execute and deliver the contracts.

But no ordinance was passed, said Osmeña.

Osmeña said he will do everything he can to stop the implementation of the "illegal” contracts so as to protect the interests of the city and its constituents.

"If complainant Ayuman is faulting me for delaying the implementation of the illegal contracts that were entered into by then mayor Rama and the SM-Ayala Consortium and the Filinvest Group, I am assuring him that I will do everything I can in order to stop the implementation of the illegal contracts," the counter-affidavit further read.

On December 9, 2019, Osmeña filed graft and corruption cases against Rama and members of the Committee on Awards before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Osmeña also filed a petition for preliminary injunction against the SRP sales.  KQD (FREEMAN)

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