CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia plans to transform the 82-year-old Cebu Provincial Capitol building into a mixed-use development that will include a public museum.
Garcia bared this plan a day after her announcement that the Cebu Provincial Government has set aside P550 million under its proposed 2021 budget for the construction of a building in Balamban that will host its new offices.
Once the proposed Cebu Provincial Government Center (CPGC) becomes operational, Garcia said she would be holding office there, but would not dispose of the existing Capitol building in Cebu City.
“Our priority right now is preservation. We could convert it into a mixed-use development or parts of it as a museum. But considering that this is a heritage site, we need to ask consent from the NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines),” Garcia told reporters in a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020.
The Cebu Provincial Capitol, which was built in 1938, was declared a national historical landmark by the NHCP in 2008.
Garcia said both the executive and legislative departments are expected to also hold offices at the CPGC once the building is constructed in Balamban.
Balamban is a first class municipality bordered to the north by Asturias town, to the south by Toledo City, to the west by Tañon Strait and to the east by Cebu City.
The town with a population of about 90,000 is known as the shipbuilding capital of the Philippines and hosts the West Cebu Industrial Park, a 283-hectare industrial estate with 11 locators and over 14,000 workers.
“We are transferring because I don’t think any of the provincial officials are actually registered in Cebu City or else they wouldn’t be qualified to run for any provincial position so we are transferring the provincial government services both executive and legislative to our envisioned government center,” Garcia said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
She added Capitol employees are expected to relocate to Balamban should the seat of the Provincial government be moved there.
“We will expect employees to relocate. If you are a Cebu City resident, you will have to relocate because from then on, a primary consideration (for employment) will be that you will have to be a constituent. It’s not going to be a hard and fast rule, but between a constituent and non-constituent of the province of Cebu, in hiring, we will give priority to those coming from or are living in the province,” she said.
Garcia assured Capitol employees that their relocation to Balamban will have a residential component as she plans to coordinate with the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-ibig Fund to provide affordable housing.
Garcia said the new government center will allow the Provincial Government to truly serve its constituents as residents of the Province would no longer have to spend more money just to get to Cebu City for their Capitol transactions.
Garcia said she is also looking for an area near the planned CPGC so that a building can be constructed for national government agencies (NGAs) to set up shop and be brought closer to the people.
Garcia added that business owners are welcome to deal with the Province in putting up a business center near the CPGC as a way to promote economic development in Balamban. / JKV