Cebu province to renegotiate sale of controversial convention center

Lorraine Ecarma
Cebu province to renegotiate sale of controversial convention center

RENEGOTIATE. More than 13 years after the CICC was built, the sale of the abandoned building is still in talks between the provincial government and city government of Mandaue.

The deteriorating convention center was sold to Mandaue City for P300 million in 2018

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the sale of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) from Cebu province to Mandaue City will have to be renegotiated.

Garcia said on Monday, July 20, that a renegotiation is necessary because the P300-million property, which was sold to Mandaue City in 2018, did not undergo the correct bidding process.

“I already told Mayor Jonas nga there’s a possibility, kinahanglan ta mag renegotiate ani kay murag wa man gud to’y nga proper procedure gisunod. Wala gani COA approval,” Garcia said.

(I already told Mayor Jonas that there’s a possibility we may have to renegotiate this since it did not follow proper procedures. It does not even have COA approval.)

The dilapidated convention center – which was built to host the 2007 ASEAN Summit and related summits – was acquired by Mandaue City from Cebu province in 2018 for P300 million, when Hilario Davide III was governor.

The Commision on Audit (COA) pointed out in its 2019 report that the sale lacked public bidding “thus the  reasonableness of the negotiated selling price and the conformity of the sale with existing regulations was not ascertained.”

Nigawas na gyud na sa COA year-end report. We will really need to abide by the COA nga recommendations (This now came out of the COA year-end report. We will really need to abide by recommendations from COA),” Garcia said.

She also hinted at the prospect of recovering CICC from Mandaue City.

“I already made it a policy and you are very well aware of this, that I will be recovering all donated, sold, and disposed of properties,” she said. 

As per COA recommendation, the provincial government has written to persons in charge of the sale, asking them to explain why the some COA requirements were sidestepped in the sale of the CICC.

The original cost of the convention center was P800 million. The building was destroyed following magnitude 7.2 Bohol earthquake in October 2013 and Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) a month later.

Since 2016, the CICC grounds have been used as an evacuation site for thousands who’ve lost their homes in fires.

In 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed its graft charges against Garcia, 10 members of the Cebu provincial bids and awards committee (BAC), and an executive of the contractor for violation of rules on bidding.

According to an April 2019 report in SunStar Cebu, the administrative charges against Garcia over the CICC have been dismissed by the Court of Appeals already, but she is still facing criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan. –