Rama prepared to go to war against CPA over Maritima

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has criticized the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) and questioned the agency’s repossession of the Compaña Maritima area, calling it a possible declaration of “war” against the City Government.

Rama then lambasted the CPA for the absence of security which led to the abduction of two members of cause-oriented groups at Pier 6 on Jan. 10, 2023.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Jan. 19, Rama said he will direct the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to include in its investigation the security details and protocols imposed by the CPA in the port area.

“Sige mo og pangaway diri namo (You keep on picking a fight with us). That is a peace and order matter within your area. What happened? Asa inyong mga (Where are your) securities?” Rama said.

Armand Jake Dayoha, 27, and his fiancée Dyan Gumanao, 28, were forced into a vehicle by men in civilian clothes after they disembarked from a ship. The two were later found abandoned in a resort in Carmen town, Cebu on Jan. 15.

The CCPO is now looking into the matter.

Rama also said he wants to “dig up” CPA’s other “businesses” since the latter is performing separately from the City Government.

Prohibited

On Dec. 23, 2022, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 Judge Soliver Peras granted the petition for a writ of preliminary injunction filed by the CPA to prohibit the Cebu City Government from occupying any portion of the Compaña Maritima area.

Peras favored the claim of the Republic of the Philippines and CPA that the contested area belongs to the Baseport of Cebu and thus belongs to the state.

This forced a stop to the improvements and construction made in the contested area by Megawide Construction Corp., which is redeveloping the Carbon Public Market under a joint venture agreement with the Cebu City Government. Megawide is investing P8 billion in the market’s redevelopment.

The CPA described the disputed area that the Cebu City Government and Megawide are working on and using as a 5,206-square-meter area previously used as a parking lot by the Cebu City Government.

Signs and guards

Last Jan. 16, the CPA then posted four tarpaulins containing two pages of the WPI signed by the RTC in Cebu City to remind the City of who owns the century-old structure.

“Butang-butang sila og guwardiya dira (They deployed guards there). What are they trying to prove to us? If they want to declare war, then I will declare war against them,” Rama said of the CPA.

The mayor previously said he already instructed his lawyers to defend the City’s “statutory rights” over the Compaña Maritima and its surroundings.

In a statement sent to SunStar Cebu Thursday, the CPA said it is not trying to get into war with the City Government.

“We are only implementing our mandate within our area. This is not a declaration of war against (the) city government or any entity,” read CPA’s statement.

Not passable

According to their social media post Thursday, CPA officials conducted an inspection at the Compaña Maritima area on Wednesday to check on the clearing operations being conducted at the CPA staging area. The clearing is being done to prepare for the construction of port facilities.

The officials also inspected the roadway under the viaduct connecting to the tunnel under Plaza Independencia and the South Coastal Road traversing the South Road Properties.

“The said roadway is no longer passable because of the multi-level mechanical parking facility installed in the area and a stockpile of accumulated confiscated materials of the Cebu City Government,” read a portion of CPA’s social media post.

The mechanical parking facility built by Megawide subsidiary Cebu2World Development Inc. (C2W) was designed to provide 156 parking slots to temporarily address the parking situation in Carbon while C2W builds the basement parking in the new main public market it is building that will have space for 6,500 vendors.

Hampering progress

In a privilege speech during the City Council’s regular session Wednesday, Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia called out the CPA for initiating legal action to assert its claim on the Compaña Maritima and its surrounding area, saying it only impedes the city’s economic and tourism development.

He described as “dastardly” the act of “hampering a project that supports an industry that can provide better job opportunities for coastal communities, and an avenue for people to work in a decent and empowering environment that enhances their quality of life.”

The contested area includes the Puso Village built by Megawide to showcase Cebu’s best products and services, as well as the multi-level mechanical parking facility.

Garcia, who is also chairman of the Cebu City Historical and Cultural Affairs Commission and chairman of the Waterfront Development Commission, said that for years the Maritima area, situated across the Senior Citizens Park, was a “litter-filled eyesore.”

“Words like decrepit, decaying, and dismal, were used to describe it decades after it was abandoned by its bankrupt shipping owners in the early ‘80s and possessed by an agency of the national government,” he said.

“It was infested by rats and other insects. People living by the docks made it their restroom. You can hardly go near it because of the smell and the filth. Drug-use paraphernalia are regularly found in this area and people passing by feared for their safety,” Garcia said.

The vice mayor said the neoclassical structure, built in 1910 and “comparable to renaissance palazzos in Europe,” was neglected “perhaps because its long-time non-Cebuano administrators did not see its value beyond the price of the land it occupies.”

Garcia lamented that just weeks after the City’s possession of Compaña Maritima was interrupted, “there again is the slow accumulation of litter, the presence of potential settlers, the undeniable markers of urban decay.” (CTL)