Cebu City

Cebu City mayoral bet Margot Osmeña opposes Carbon Market privatization

John Sitchon
Cebu City mayoral bet Margot Osmeña opposes Carbon Market privatization

CARBON MARKET. An arial view of the Carbon Public Market in Cebu City. Cebu City Public Information Office

Osmeña says she will ask the courts to rescind the joint venture agreement with Megawide if she is elected mayor of Cebu City

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mayoral aspirant Margot Osmeña will haul the developers of the city’s Carbon Public Market modernization project to court if that is what she has to do to stop it, she said.

“We will make it clear. The vendors, themselves, have said that they are not against modernization. It’s just the fact that a public market will now be made into a private franchise,” she said.

“We will send documents with evidence – that is already present –  that the contract itself has deficiencies. Therefore, we are going to work for that,” the former city councilor said.

Osmeña’s objection to the privatization of the market was her first major policy pronouncement since she announced that she would run last October.

Osmeña is a former city councilor and wife of former longtime Cebu City mayor Tommy Osmeña.

Her statement comes after an extortion scam was uncovered, when an employee of the Cebu City government allegedly asked vendors to pay up to P100,000 to secure their spot in the modernized market. (READ: Cebu City gov’t employee arrested for alleged extortion of market vendors)

On top of the extortion racket, vendor groups were also worried that the privatization of the market would displace vendors and increase rents in the market.

According to activists and opponents of the project, 5,000 to 6,000 vendors could be displaced.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama responded during his press conference on Friday afternoon, saying that Osmeña was “entitled to her imagination.”

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Earlier in November, Rama announced that talks were ongoing with project developer Megawide Construction Corp. in order to cure “defects” with the Carbon Market modernization project. 

Osmeña said that Rama himself previously admitted that they had not read the whole contract. 

 “How can you approve something that affects thousands of lives? It affects the Carbon Market!” Osmeña said.

A representative of Cebu2World Development Inc. (C2W), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Megawide, told Rappler in a statement that the contract underwent an “extensive”  bidding process.

“We reiterate that the contract went through the proper process and is compliant with all the applicable laws, rules and regulations of a public-private partnership project. As such, we see no ground that would support the rescission or termination of the JVA,” C2W said in its statement.

They also said that taking control of the market was not the goal of the joint venture.

“We would also like to emphasize that the thrust of the project is not to take control of the public market but to bring about substantial developments in the vicinity to allow for a better life not only for the vendors but for all Cebuanos,” the developer said.

C2W said despite the existing joint venture agreement, they were still willing to talk with the stakeholders

The current contract is a 50-year concession, after which the project would be turned over to the Cebu City government. –