Capitol spending P27M for Balili lot reclamationCebu Daily News
The Cebu provincial government is spending P27 million for “restoration” of the 24.7-hectare Balili beach property, which was mostly underwater or classified as coastal timberland when acquired.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday said there was nothing wrong with covering submerged portions of the property since this was part of Capitol plans to develop it for a secured landfill to hold coal ash waste.
“We have never hidden our intentions about the Balili property. So what is all this alarm about what we are doing there?” she said in a press conference.
“If we dump coal ash in the area, what will happen? The water will be covered with coal ash. Now, we are using soil. The submerged areas are covered. Are you worried?”
Garcia said the province has applied with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to classify the Balili property as an economic zone and that there was no need for authorization from the Provincial Board to restore the property.
“We wish to correct all possible misconceptions that this contract was unauthorized,” she said.
Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla said the restoration work in the Balili property is charged against a P50 million budget for “Site Development and Housing Program” in the annual budget.
“There is no need for another Provincial Board authorization because that budget already serves as PB authorization,” he said.
Restoration is covered in the Environmental Compliance Certificate issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Planning and Development Office head Adolfo Quiroga said the province is spending P27 million for the restoration.
The Province paid P98.9 million for the Balili resort property in Naga City, including fishponds and foreshore lots.
The 2008 purchase is the subject of a graft case in the Sandiganbayan, where Governor Garcia, five other Capitol officials and two private land owners were charged in a complaint filed by the Ombudsman on July 19.
The anti-graft office said the contract was disadvantageous to the government as almost 20 hectares was found submerged in water.
The governor is seeking a reinvestigation.
“We’ve gone all the way to the Supreme Court for this so I hope some people will be enlightened especially if you are here in the provincial government itself,” the governor said without mentioning any names.
Garcia is facing charges of two counts of graft and one count of techncal malversation of public funds since the purchase of the land was charged to a budget intended for housing. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter