Tom on P25 billion investment:‘CH gets nothing’
CEBU, Philippines — Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña believes that Universal Hotel and Resorts Inc., developer of a resorts and casino project at the South Road Properties, may have agreed to increase its investment from P18 billion to P25 billion so its building permit won’t be blocked by the present administration.
However, Osmeña stressed that even with the hike in investment, the city is still not bound to directly get any money from the increase.
“The court already ruled that it is legal. But the threat of harassment remained so they increased the investment to avoid it. City saves face but the money does not go to them. It will just make it a bigger project. Good,” Osmeña told The FREEMAN in a text message.
When asked to elaborate on “threat of harassment,” Osmeña said the current administration might withhold the building permit or implement a traffic redirection that will be adverse to UHRI.
However, Osmeña said the increase of the investment is a “win-win” solution, both for UHRI and the city government under the new administration of Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Sought for comment, Labella said he just yielded to the recommendation of the city’s Joint Venture Selection Committee that met with the UHRI officials.
The mayor said he respects the comment of Osmeña.
“Dili ta gusto mapareha sa consortium that bought lots at SRP nga na-stall and the city suffered because the previous administration did not issue the needed permits,” Labella said.
Labella earlier said that the integrated resort and casino project was “disadvantageous” to the city with the agreed 90-10 sharing on the annual gross receipts.
He said the cases filed to stop the project have been dismissed by the court, stressing that he does not want to fight against investors.
Architect Florante Catalan, head of the city’s Office of the Building Official, said his office has issued the building permit for UHRI last month.
Catalan said UHRI has corrected the deficiencies in the building permit application, such as fire clearance certificate; Department of Public Works and Highways wastewater/sanitary design; and application to DPWH for clearance; among others.
“Na-comply na ilang deficiencies like clearance from DPWH. Almost P5 million ang nabayaran sa building permit (They paid almost P5 million for the building permit),” he said.
In the Joint Venture Agreement signed by the city during the incumbency of Osmeña, the construction of the integrated resort and casino is said to be done in two phases.
The first phase includes the construction of commercial or shopping center, integrated resort facility, convention center, performing arts theater, themed park and iconic public art, one hotel, parking lot, and the casino.
The second phase includes the construction of two more hotels on the third and fourth year after the JVA was signed.
The development sits on the nine-hectare property that used to be called the Kawit Island at the SRP. — JMD (FREEMAN)