[PHOTO AT LEFT - Vice President Noli de Castro is being greeted upon his arrival at Marco Polo Plaza to keynote the national convention of Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc. ALDO NELBERT BANAYNAL]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 27, 2008 (STAR) By Jessica Ann R. Pareja Garry B. Lao - A day after receiving a formal offer from Filinvest Land Inc. to develop 50 hectares of the South Road Properties, the City of Cebu continued pushing the SRP to potential investors.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña along with Joel Mari Yu of the Cebu Investment and Promotions Center (CIPC) showed to delegates of the 2008 National Developers’ Convention and Exhibition at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel what Cebu has to offer.

Yu highlighted the SRP as Cebu’s centerpiece for development.

Osmeña also pointed out that the city did not make a master plan for the SRP as this would be a “fixation.”

He said that the city has to be flexible with regards to this project so that it can go along the needs of the investors.

“The world is changing, so our thrust is to be as flexible as possible,” said Osmeña.

FLI plans to buy 10 hectares from the city and develop and additional 40 hectares in a joint venture.

Osmeña said that the city would be in a better position to earn more from a joint venture since it will get a share from the gross proceeds and not only of the profits.

“Whether they make a profit or not, we will get the portion of their sale. By this, there will be no discretion and less corruption,” Osmeña said.

Garganera To Resign

Former Tinago barangay captain Joel Garganera, who is now a councilman, said that he will really resign from his post if the city can sell a portion of the SRP before the year ends.

Gargagera, a staunch critic of the mayor, dared Osmeña to resign from his post if he could not sell a single lot at the SRP by the end of 2008. Likewise, he said that he would quit if there would be a sale.

With the offer of FLI, Garganera’s days as barangay councilman might be numbered as he said that he will be true to his word.

“I will stand with my words even if the mayor did not bite my challenge,” Garganera said, adding that he was happy when he heard the news that FLI will be investing in the SRP.

“Don’t get me wrong. I am happy. But before I will resign, I will personally congratulate Mayor Osmeña ug basin tingali maka-abot pa ko og Pasko sa dili pa ko mo-resign,” Garganera said.

Garganera expressed concern about the huge payments the city is making for the SRP loan.

Although he was happy with the latest development, Garganera advised the company to carefully study and be aware of the legality of the SRP.

“Ganahan pud ta motan-aw sa terms and conditions. Kung mobayad ba dayon ang Filinvest or unsa nga pamaagi, di ba? Katungod pud sab tingali nato isip lungsoranon,” Garganera added.

Last March 2007, Garganera asked the court to stop Osmeña, the city council and the CIPC from marketing or leasing the 290-hectare SRP.

He also had said that Proclamation 843, which transferred ownership of the SRP to the City, was invalid because it lacked congressional approval.

But two months later, a Cebu judge said he found no basis in Garganera’s lawsuit to issue a temporary restraining order against Cebu City’s transactions to develop the SRP.

FLI Vice President for Visayas and Mindanao Projects Tristan Las Marias said that they plan to put up hotels, condominiums, a corporate headquarters and hospitals in the 50 hectares they are proposing to develop.

Las Marias said they have already expressed intention of investing at SRP four years ago, but it the process was quite long as the city was still studying what to do about it.

Las Marias said that if their proposal will be approved, the project will be done in phases. They are planning to put up five to eight buildings once they get the nod of the city.

He said that they are targeting the international market for the project that is estimated to cost at least P80 billion.

Noli At Confab

Vice President Noli de Castro, who was also the conference, appealed to the housing developers to continue investing on residences for the Filipinos despite the financial crisis in the United States.

He urged also that there should be a closer look at the housing policies for loopholes.

De Castro said he has already directed National Housing Authority General Manager Rico Laxa to study the market and the environment closely and to be vigilant as the recent events may have an impact on the industry.

He also assured that the PAG-IBIG Fund, which lends money to its members, who are building houses, continues to support the development of more projects by increasing the ceiling for socialized housing loans without increasing the interest rate.

“Everything is in place to keep the housing sector moving,” the vice president said. — with Liv Campo/NLQ

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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