City can now remove ‘overpriced’ lamp posts

CEBU CITY -- After six months, the Office of the Special Prosecutor finally gave the Cebu City Government the go-signal to remove all decorative lamp posts installed in the city during the 12th Asean Summit.

State prosecutors, however, set some conditions.

In a letter to the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit said they see no impediment to the removal of the lamp posts as these have become “eyesores.”

Sulit said although the lamp posts are subject to a pending criminal case in the 5th Division of the Sandiganbayan, they are not covered by any confiscation or forfeiture proceedings of the court.

However, Sulit told Citom that the lamp posts, once removed, should be stored in a secure and sheltered facility so that they can be inspected by the court anytime.

Sulit said the removal of the lamp posts should be documented on video and a corresponding report should be made. The prosecutors want a copy of the report.

Sulit said Citom should submit to the special prosecutors’ office all documents relating to the lamp posts’ inventory and the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report, as well as the list of names of persons who participated in the purchase of the items. Prosecutors also want to have photographs taken of the lamp posts.

Last October, City Hall expressed desire to remove the lamp posts as they have become “fundamentally useless” and obstruct sidewalks.

Some local and national government officials were accused of graft before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for allegedly conniving to facilitate the purchase of overpriced lamp posts. The ombudsman had found some of the officials guilty.

In compliance with the requirements of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Citom and COA conducted an inventory.

The lamp posts were installed along selected streets to beautify the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in 2007.

In Cebu City, there were 685 lamp posts installed on S. Osmeña St., Juan Luna Ave., Salinas Drive, Veterans’ Drive and the road going up to Marco Polo Hotel in Nivel Hills. At present, only 677 exist.

After the inventory, COA found the lamp posts to be in “poor condition, unoperational and defective.”

In an interview, Citom Executive Director Rafael Yap welcomed the development. He said they will be removing the lamp posts with the help of the Department of Engineering and Public Works on April 23.

Yap said he understands why it took the Office of the Special Prosecutor some time to give the City the go-signal to remove the lamp posts, considering that it is subject to pending litigation.

Mayor Michael Rama, for his part, said he is yet to read Sulit’s letter.

Asked what he will do with the lamp posts, Rama said he wants to convert them into plant holders and place them at the senior’s citizen’s park, which will be built in front of City Hall. (PDF/Sun.Star Cebu)

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