Outgoing Governor Asked to Halt Excavation for Cebu Resource Center

A request to stop the excavation for the Cebu Provincial Resource Project has been requested by the incoming governor, amid fears that it would dwarf the historic capitol.

Cebu, Philippines 4 June 2019

Governor-elect Gwendolyn Garcia asked outgoing governor Hilario Davide III to stop excavation works for the controversial P1.3 billion (US$25 million) Cebu Provincial Resource Center project, which began in February of 2018. Davide was sent a letter from Garcia’s lawyer, Frank Dinsay.

The letter was posted on Garcia’s Facebook page on Monday, June 3: “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.”

The 20-story building, which is being built within the capitol compound, is envisioned to house government offices, commercial space, and a multipurpose building.

“The 20-story building, which is being built within the capitol compound, is envisioned to house government offices, commercial space, and a multipurpose building.”

Davide’s spokesperson declined to comment on the letter as of this posting.

The building is being funded by a P1.3-billion loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Garcia said the expenses of the building’s construction were “unnecessary” and told reporters on several occasions that she aims to have a “debt-free” province under her administration.

Heritage conservationists argue that the new building, which will tower over the historic capitol building, will diminish the significance of the capitol. Garcia said that she “never agreed with the project.”

Dinsay also reminded Davide of his previous statements that he would support Garcia’s agenda and programs.

This is the second time the political rivals have clashed over issues in transitioning power. Davide will step down to vice governor in the upcoming term.

In a letter sent to Davide in May of 2019, Garcia told him to refrain from making “midnight appointments” and other deals toward the end of his term. Davide said he was “insulted” by this letter and found it unnecessary.

Garcia, currently serving as Cebu City 3rd district congresswoman, won the Cebu gubernatorial race, beating her closest rival, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, by nearly 300,000 votes. Davide, Magpale’s running mate, won as vice governor.

Garcia has faced several controversies over government projects during her previous terms as governor between 2004 and 2013. She was ordered suspended by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012. She refused to honor the order, and instead holed herself up in the provincial capitol.

Days before the 13 May, 2019 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.

Supporting the Ombudsman’s decision, the Sandiganbayan had affirmed the graft and technical malversation charges against Garcia. Then-House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, did not dismiss Garcia.

For more on this story, go to Rappler.

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