Garcia’s first order as governor: Stop Cebu Capitol center project
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The controversial P1.3-billion Cebu Provincial Resource Center project, which conservationists say will tower over the historic Capitol building, will discontinue – for now.
On Monday, July 1, newly-elected Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) No. 1 to “permanently” stop and discontinue “any and all works relative to the construction” of the resource center, which was initiated by her predecessor and now Vice Governor Hilario Davide III.
The building project, which began its excavations last February, is funded by a P1.3-billion loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Garcia’s order said the project violated Section 48 (b) of Article 12 of the National Heritage Cultural Act of 2009.
The governor's order on her first full day in office said the provincial board did not give David the authority to enter into the deal.
Garcia said Davide violated Section 22 (c) of the Local Government Code, which says the local chief executive cannot enter into a contract on behalf of the local government unit “without prior authorization by the Saggunian concerned.”
Davide entered into a contract with WT Construction Incorporated in February 2019.
“The erection of the Cebu Resource Project is a direct contradiction of the dictum articulated in Section 7 of Republic Act No. 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Act,” Garcia’s order reads.
Garcia also stressed in her first EO that the project was “grossly disadvantageous” to Cebu province for being “economically, financially, technically impractical and unnecessary.”
“After my election as Governor of the Province of Cebu in the last May 13, 2019, election, [I] had declared in no uncertain terms that the Cebu Resource Center Project will not be included in my program of government,” Garcia said.
Although Garcia kept pressing that the project was illegal, Davide cited a Supreme Court decision, which said he did not need the provincial board’s approval because the board had already appropriated funds for the P1.3-billion project.
“While you may justify the ongoing earth works to be within your administration’s term of office and therefore your prerogative as the incumbent governor, prudence dictates that you immediately discontinue the project bearing in mind the irreversible economic loss that the said works will entail given that the incoming governor, Governor-elect Garcia, has already declared, in no uncertain terms, that the project is not part of her program of government.”
Earlier in May, Davide said he was insulted when Garcia instructed his office not to make any “midnight appointments” and deals.
During her previous terms as governor, from 2004 to 2013, Garcia had faced several controversies over government projects. President Benigno Aquino III suspended her in 2012, an order she refused to heed, prompting her to hole herself up in the capitol.
Days before the May 13 elections, the Court of Appeals reversed the Ombudsman's January 2018 order dismissing Garcia from service and barring her from seeking public office for grave misconduct.
This was in connection with her involvement in the purchase of the sprawling Balili property in Naga City. (READ: Gwen Garcia and the Balili property: A tale of two controversies). – Rappler.com