Capitol resource center overpriced?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - February 15, 2019 - 12:00am

There is no question that the Cebu provincial government is taking a big risk in pursuing the construction of the 20-story resource center without any clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). This is what NHCP chairman Dr. Rene Escalante said in an interview. He warned Capitol officials about this since their requests to Capitol for a new development plan for the resource center went unheeded.

 

Escalante further said the provincial government had crossed a very risky line in proceeding with the construction of the building since any taxpayer could file a case against Capitol officials. Actually, a case before the Office of the Ombudsman has already been filed by Mr. Saavedra against Capitol officials.

Yesterday, I got a text message from a friend, Mr. Rick Ramos, who said: “Bobit, Read your column on the P1.3 Billion Cebu Provincial Building. It is obscenely overpriced. It should cost no more than P1.0 Billion. If floor area is 1,000 sqms, then it is only P50M per floor. Multiply by 20 floors then that is only P1.0 Billion.

“Cebu Provincial Bldg. is like the controversial Makati City Hall bldg. built at P1.3 Billion, but estimated only at P700 M and P800M by two professional appraisers during the Senate hearings in 2015. Overpriced by P500M. Charges were filed against Binay with contractors like DMCI and EEI, P50K per sqm on gross floor area is already on the high side. It can be as low as P35K per sqm. Depending on the design of the bldg. At P40K per sqm and 1,000 sqms per floor of 20-storey bldg. cost is only P800M. So that looks like a P500M overprice.”

Thanks, Rick, for giving me a comparison to the controversial Makati Building. This issue could very well help Saavedra’s case against the Capitol officials. If you don’t know Ramos, he was with the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission since 1986 with Rene Saguisag as chief presidential counsel, so what he has sent me here is something that he simply read and something triggered him to warn me this deal smells of corruption. Now I did not accuse Governor Davide of corruption, but at the end of the day, it is just too mysterious why he is in such a hurry to have this deal signed? Because it is very possible he can get something for his campaign for vice governor, and if this is proven in court, then I’m sorry for Davide!

*  *  *

Last Wednesday, I joined my good friend, Commodore Robert “Bobby” Joseph in Casino Español as guest speaker for the Rotary Club of Metro Cebu. It was my first time to attend this wonderful club. My good friends, Eddie Barrita, Dr. Wyben Briones, Cerwin Eviota, and Bobby Pacaña, their current president, were all in attendance and, yes, their club activities were very similar to the Rotary Club of Manila where Joseph belongs. Both Rotary Clubs are dynamically run. Above all, the Rotary Club of Metro Cebu has women members, with me meeting old friends Emma Ramas and Gemma Pido.

In his speech, Joseph related to Rotarians the miracle that was the Manila Bay cleanup which began when he was named commodore of the Manila Yacht Club and accepted to spearhead the cleanup of Manila Bay. Then by first week of December, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu met him in the yacht club and ordered a meeting on January 15, 2019. In that meeting with the 13 mandamus government agencies, they came up with a launching date on January 27, 2019 to clean up Manila Bay.

Joseph asked me to be with him in Manila that day so brought Kirby Campo, our MyTV cameraman, to record this historic event and the rest is history. So in his speech Joseph rallied the Rotarians of Metro Cebu to join him in the cleanup of Manila Bay and to start the cleanup of rivers and esteros in Cebu, and the Rotarians led by Pacaña accepted this challenge and we will look forward to this.

*  *  *

The big breaking news is that journalist Maria Ressa, chief of online news website Rappler, was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation the other night and yesterday she was granted bail. So why is she accusing Malacañang of stopping press freedom? We journalists have libel cases, but we fight them in court so Ressa should also fight her legal battles just like everyone else!

vsbobita@mozcom.com

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