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Council, Megawide spooked

The Carbon Alliance case against the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Cebu City government and the Megawide Construction Corporation supposedly to develop the city’s Carbon Market has apparently spooked majority of the Council members and Megawide officials.

Ten majority councilors hurriedly passed a memorandum of agreement with Megawide supposedly to “cure” infirmities of the earlier approved JVA. To recall, the same 10 councilors hastily approved the JVA on January 6, 2021, despite their admission of failure to thoroughly read the whole document.

“We attended the Council session to voice our position on proposed amendments to the Market Code,” said Carbon Alliance leader Anne Marie Sipalay-Ariosa. However, the introduction of the MOA by Vice Mayor Mike Rama surprised her and fellow alliance leaders.

The Carbon Alliance welcomed the majority decision. “However, we stand firm that the JVA should be scrapped,” a press statement said. The Council minority voted to rescind the JVA.

The amendments practically acknowledged most concerns the Carbon Alliance raised about the JVA. It sought to “cure” what the councilors think are wrong with the JVA. In a sense, this opens the possibility of a more inclusive and open dialog on the development of the Carbon market, said Anne Marie.

But Carbon Alliance lawyers pointed out shortcomings in the Council proposed changes like the lack of a genuine bidding. Cebu’s media icon Atty. Cheking Seares, in a column, zeroed on Cebu City Hall’s ownership of the whole lot covered by the JVA. The proposed changes also needed the approval of Megawide officials.

The way I looked at it however, the wide support the Carbon Alliance got for its anti-JVA case alarmed the Council majority with a month to the filing of their candidacies as well as Megawide. Thousands of Carbon vendors joined an emotional candle-lighting ceremony a day after their lawyer Rex JMA Fernandez was ambushed and killed in a city suburb. The alliance, moreover, appealed to the rest of Cebu City residents as the Carbon Market is their source of cheap goods.

During a media lunch, Megawide officials talked about discrediting members of the Carbon Alliance. This was followed by pro-administration trolls denouncing Leftists and the BOPK being behind the Carbon Alliance. A pathetic PR maneuver, I believe.

(Emmanuel Mongaya, co-founder and director for strategic communications of PRWorks Inc., is a member of the Political Officers League of the Philippines or POLPhil. DM him @anol_cebu)