Espinoza: The City Government forfeits its authority

Elias L. Espinoza
·3 min read

DESPITE the lack of the necessary documents in the construction of the new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), which is obviously owned and operated by the Cebu City Government, the first three floors were opened on Monday night to cater to the outpatients only. Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella and Vice Mayor Mike Rama led the inaugural cutting of the ribbon.

The opened three floors are expected to ease the very congested temporary hospital that is housed at the building of the Bureau of Fire and Prevention (BFP). To recall, the transfer of the hospital at the BFP building caused a rift between then Mayor Rama and the BFP officials.

Former Mayor Tomas Osmeña, after defeating Rama in the 2016 polls, halted the construction of the building after it was found out that it had no building permit and it encroached on the road, classified as highway that was named after the late and former Assemblyman Natalio Bacalso, the renowned radio commentator in his time. Then Mayor Rama ordered the demolition of the hospital as the building was damaged by the earthquake in October 2013.

Before CCMC was demolished in lieu of the new building, then Mayor Tomas, in his prior term, wanted to sell CCMC because of the management problem that beset the hospital. But it didn't push through because the City Council opposed the plan. Then Mayor Rama, who pushed for the construction of the new CCMC, went into solicitation binge here and abroad because it was his wish to finish the hospital before his term would end, thinking he could be reelected in the 2016 elections.

I suppose that the problem of the lack of building permit for the new CCMC and that the building encroached on the highway has not been resolved when I was writing this column. The opening of the three floors may be necessary in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, are the city officials not accountable for the negligence in construction the building without the necessary permits because the City Government owns it?

To recall, the City Government had launched a campaign against illegal structures or buildings that violated the easement, particularly on the waterways, and ordered the owners of these establishments to cause the demolition of the buildings to prevent flooding during the rainy months. Recently, more buildings that obstructed the city's waterways were found by the barangay officials in Barangays Sambag 2 and Hipodromo. The obstruction of the waterways was blamed when the uptown area was flooded few months ago.

The issue on the construction of the new CCMC building that aside from the lack of the necessary permits it encroached on the road is a no brainer for the owners of the establishments found to have violated the three-meter easement on the waterways to tell the City Government to correct its violation first before they do theirs. In other words under this situation, the City Government loses its authority, or moral ascendancy, over the violators of the city's ordinances and laws. It's a shame, right?

So, what has the city officials done to correct the mistake? There is not a doubt that the error was due to the willful negligence of the contractor and responsible city officials that oversee the construction of this new CCMC building, which was beset with controversy in the early stage of the work, that is, from the choice of the contractor to the missing valuable things of the hospital.

Let's hope and wish for the best in Year 2021. Happy New Year, everyone!