CCCI opposes 'expensive' provision in disaster resiliency legislation

NEARLY a year has passed since Typhoon Odette (Rai) brought widespread devastation in Cebu, the proposed disaster resiliency ordinance has yet to be passed by the city council after a local business group objected to some provisions of the legislation.

The City Councilor James Cuenco-authored legislation, called Resiliency and Efficiency Amidst Disaster and Emergency (Reade) ordinance, mandates businesses to install standby power supply.

Cuenco’s Reade ordinance was filed in January this year but the committee report on the proposed ordinance was just released for discussion recently.

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (CCCI) position paper was discussed during the City Council’s public hearing on the proposed Reade ordinance on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.

According to CCCI president Charles Kenneth Co, Cuenco’s measure contains some provisions that are deemed disadvantageous and would mean another expenditure for the business sector that would lead to a setback of the city’s economic development.

Co opposed the provision that requires business establishments to ensure that they can provide a standby power supply that can last for at least eight hours.

Odette’s devastation

In his proposed ordinance, Cuenco cited that the city sustained an estimated damage of at least P1 billion after the devastation of Typhoon Odette due to the total power and water outage.

“Only a few commercial, telecommunication and banking establishments operated two days after the storm’s onslaught due to inexistent power sources,” read a portion of Cuenco’s ordinance.

As a remedy, Cuenco’s ordinance would require essential commercial establishments to equip their respective businesses with a standby power supply that can be able to supply the voltage requirement needed for the delivery of their services.

The backup electrical supply should be able to provide a minimum of eight hours of continuous business operation.

The identified establishments are drinking water refilling stations, supermarkets and groceries, pharmacies, telecommunication towers and installations, and commercial banks.

Legislation’s intention

Co acknowledged the good intention of the ordinance, but he noted that there are several provisions that would be disadvantageous to businesses, especially those who are engaged in micro, small and medium enterprises.

The business leader further said that the standby power requirement mandated in the proposed ordinance would bring an extreme burden to business owners due to the excessive prices of petroleum products.

Since the proposed ordinance will require the Office of the Building Official to inspect the establishments and check if they are compliant with the standby power requirement provision before issuing a compliance certificate, Co said that this could discourage future investors in the city.

“It discourages entrepreneurs to invest in the City of Cebu as this Reade Compliance Certificate is another documentary requisite to meet before securing the Mayor’s Permit,” said Co.

In their position paper, Co appealed to the City Government that fuel stations must be directed to give priority to business establishments for them to maintain continuous operations during emergencies.

Co also asked that business establishments must be given ample time to comply with the Reade Compliance Certificate should the proposed ordinance be approved.

Under the ordinance, businesses will be given 30 days to comply with all the provisions of the ordinance. (IRT)