Why stick to the original P500M offer?
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - September 23, 2015 - 10:00am

It is impossible to know what is in a person's mind. Science may have advanced in virtual quantum leaps but, it has, as far as I know, not yet developed a tool with which to read with certainty what moves a man to do something. But, in almost everything a person undertakes, he has some motives for doing so.

Having said that, and consistent to the off-tangent nature of this column, I lay claim to the thought that politics is a strong motivation for men, in our midst, to want to achieve something, or in the negative, not to accomplish a thing. Let me focus on the herculean problem besetting the Cebu City residents who are occupying the parcels of land located in various parts of the city but which are owned by the provincial government. Ordinance No. 93-!, conceptualized under the visionary leadership of then Governor Vicente de la Serna, attempted to untie this huge Gordian knot.

The approach, to recall, was ingenious. The province would allow the settlers to pay the lots they were occupying in reasonable amounts of money within a certain time frame. As it came to pass, many availed of the program and they were eventually given separate titles of their lots. But there were others who, for one reason or another, let the opportunity pass.

Recently, we read reports that the two gentlemen leading the local government units of the province and the city of Cebu are trying to strike a deal. There is no question that good motives predicate their moves. Governor Hilario Davide III and Mayor Michael L Rama, with the progressive minds of Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and former Gov. de la Serna, are exploring a final solution.

As reported, the province wants the city to give to the province, in addition to the five hundred million pesos offered by the city, a lot at the SRP worth One Billion Three Hundred Million Pesos. In fine, for a total of P1.8 billion, the province shall cede the ownership of the remaining lots covered by Ordinance 93-1.

The P500m offer by the city is a good solution. If, on this consideration of, a deed embodying the hand-over by the province to the city of the real estate assets involved, it will be faster for the settlers to acquire finally the lots they have been occupying.

In so far as the province is concerned, they can hardly collect from the settlers the cheap price envisioned by Gov. de la Serna. According to the governor, of the original 55 hectares, the occupants paid only about 23 hectares. If there are 32 hectares of land unpaid by the settlers, there is extreme difficulty getting the payment. Will the province sue the lot occupants? Ejectment is never an option for it breeds social discontent. The P500 million offered by the city is like manna from heaven. The governor's bet move is to take the offer. A bird on hand, to restate an adage, is always better than two on air.

But, if that materializes, Mayor Rama will have the added advantage of gratitude from the settlers and that is why this influential factor cannot allow that to happen.

On the other hand, the additional value of P1.3 billion is an entirely new matter. It is easy to persuade the governor to insist on this value because it can be justified by the spiraling prices of real estate. But, I believe the governor did not think about it. His frame of mind is on how to rid the province of this big problem. My reading is that a politician, who commands a tremendous influence on him, threw this added cost in. This new financial angle is designed to drive a monkey wrench into the deal. The motivation of this influential person is for the governor and the mayor to fail to reach an agreement.  And if I can only tell the mayor and the governor what my mind reads, I will tell them to disregard this idea because it is not beneficial to all parties concerned, the province, the city and above all, the settlers.

Mayor Rama must insist on the original P500 million offer because he cannot segregate an SRP lot valued at more than one billion pesos to give to the province. Setting such a valuable piece of land offends the general public because it is tantamount to favoring few selected settlers. His social cause will meet head-on with an outraged citizenry.


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