Gokongwei wants ruling on P18-B project

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Cebu City — The Gokongwei-led Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI) is seeking the dismissal of a case filed against its P18-billion development project in partnership with the Cebu City government, pointing out the complaint lacks merit.

In a 37-page memorandum, the UHRI said the case filed by Busay Barangay Councilman Amilo Lopez against the development of the 10 hectare Kawit Island at the South Road Property (SRP) owned by the city government is contrary to public interest. The UHRI and the city government have agreed to put up the Cebu Integrated Resort and Casino Project on the island.

“Contrary to the claim of petitioner (Lopez), the JVA (Joint Venture Agreement) and/or the project will not cause grave and irreparable injury to the petitioners and the constituents of the City of Cebu, but, rather, will contribute to the economic growth of the City of Cebu,” said the memorandum.

Lopez had asked the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction to stop the city government from entering into an agreement with UHRI. He said the UHRI does not have the technical capacity to undertake the project provided under the Joint Venture Ordinance.

He also alleged the City Council did not gave Mayor Tomas Osmeña any authority to sign the JVA with UHRI officials.

However, the UHRI dismissed the claim and insisted it has the technical and financial capabilities to undertake and develop the project as its affiliates — the Gokongwei Group of Companies and the Robinsons Land Corp. — have executed a memorandum of cooperation for the utilization of the affiliate’s technical expertise and financial resources to develop Kawit Island.

UHRI said the petition is devoid of factual and legal basis for the issuance of injunctive relief as Lopez failed to establish the requisites for the grant of a writ of permanent injunction. The company also pointed out the issue whether the City Council authorized Mayor Osmeña or not is outside the court’s jurisdiction but is within the purview of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The UHRI cited Republic Act 8975 which states the court is prohibited from issuing any TRO and/or preliminary injunction against national government projects like the resort and casino project in Kawit.

“The sharing scheme is not disadvantageous to the Cebu City Government as it is determined by the percentages of gross revenues from each component of the investment and not computed based on the aggregate,” the UHRI said to stress the project’s benefits for Cebu.

Under the deal, the city will receive 10 percent of the gross real estate rental revenues to be generated from the retail lease of spaces in the commercial, shopping center and the parking slots; 10 percent of the gross real estate revenues from the wholesale lease of the gross bare-shell spaces in the integrated resort; 15 percent from the bare-shell spaces in the casino facility; and 10 percent from the lease if spaces in the hotels if leased to hotel operator but two percent if UHRI operates the hotel’s gross room and food and beverage revenues.

It also accused Lopez of forum-shopping as the same petition was filed by eight councilors allied with Barug-PDP Laban. These councilors are: Raymond Alvin Garcia, Jose Daluz III, Jocelyn Pesquera, Pastor Alcover Jr., Erik Miguel Espina, Joel Garganera, Renato Osmeña Jr. and Eduardo Rama Jr.

The opposition councilors filed the declaration of nullity of the two resolutions with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction.

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