Cebu City officials vowed to fight it out to prevent the P16.3-billion budget for Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project from being diverted to other local government units.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Representatives Raul del Mar (North District, Cebu City) and Rodrigo Abellanosa (South District, Cebu City) made the assurance as they questioned the proposal of Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando to transfer the budget for Cebu BRT project to the BRT project in Metro Manila.
“We will not allow this P16-billion ‘robbery’ by Manila of Cebu’s BRT funds to happen in Congress. When Mayor Tommy Osmeña had the SRP (South Road Properties), the Cebuanos proclaimed our economic independence day from Imperial Manila,” Abellanosa said.
“We will fight it there, this shameful and greedy act of Congressman Bayani. Metro Manila and Luzon have traditionally cornered more than 50 percent of national infra funds,” he added.
Osmeña admitted that he is worried over the report since there are officials who have crab mentality. He insisted that officials of Metro Manila where the BRT project will be implemented should look for their own funding.
Fernando proposed to Congress to transfer the Cebu BRT funds for BRT projects at Epifanio delos Santos Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
The Cebu City mayor described Bayani’s proposal as unethical and very hard to do, especially that Cebu is not giving up the project. “It’s very hard to do that. It’s really bastos (rude). That’s not your project. Why will you rob us of our money?” Osmeña said.
Del Mar, for his part, insisted that the Cebu BRT funds cannot be transferred anywhere since it is supported by an international agreement between the Philippine government, World Bank and government of France.
“I can’t understand it. He (Bayani) knows it cannot be done…each project has its own peculiarities. This was approved by international agreements with World Bank and French government,” del Mar explained.
“The study and the funding of Cebu BRT project have gone through almost 10 years already. It is a foreign-assisted project. It’s fund by ODA (Official Development Assistance). It’s funded by loan,” he added.
Del Mar recalled that the last session of the House committee on transportation tackled the manifestations of the representatives who complained about the delay in the implementation of Metro Manila’s BRT.
In that session, del Mar manifested his complaints about the delay of Cebu’s BRT, which the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is pushing to be cancelled. He also made a motion asking DoTr to resume the implementation of the project.
The Office of the President and the DoTr released almost P1 billion to Cebu City to implement the BRT and the funds were used for road widening and land acquisition.
The Daily Tribune tried to interview Fernando, but as of press time, he has not yet replied.