Mandaue City — based traders yesterday expressed concern over the decision by Mayor Luigi Quisumbing to order the closure of one of the most popular hotel brands in the region.
Padlocked was Big Hotel, Big Hotel Suites and Linear Coffee Shop owned and managed by Cenore Corporation and Travelbee, respectively, for alleged contract violations and operating without business permit and registration.
A separate order was served to Travelbee for Big Hotel Suites and Linear Coffee Shop for reportedly operating without business permits.
The order also accused the firm of failing to pay business taxes and fees for calendar year 2019 and hiring an employee who did not pay occupational tax prior to employment.
The development reportedly rattled the local businessmen some of whom expressed apprehension that they might be next in line.
“The closure order was apparently sending a warning to us that we should toe the line or else” one of the traders who requested anonymity said without elaborating.
Lawyer Deolito Alvarez, legal counsel for Big Hotel, admitted the closure order notice was indeed served.
He, however, insisted the hotel would be business as usual until a final decision is reached even as negotiations with the city hall were ongoing.
Alvarez likewise raised the possibility that politics played a role in the issuance of closure order.
“The owners of Big Hotel are businessmen and not politicians. It is sad that businesses are often victimized by dirty, heartless and evil hands of politicians,” he said.
It was gathered that during the time of Mayor Jonas Cortes, the city leased its property to Katumanan Hardware, Inc. which in turn subleased the same to Cenore Corporation through a deed of assignment.
However, the Commission on Audit found out later that the deed of assignment did not have the authority of the city council.
The city council reportedly tried to contact the management of the hotel to rectify the issue but the latter failed to comply with the summons.
The city hall then gave Cenore 30 days to justify and prove why the hotel shouldn’t be closed but failed, prompting the former to interpret it as clear manifestation of bad faith.
Mandaue Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna said the original contract between the city and Katumanan was for 15 years, from 2007 to 2022, but this was extended to 25 years during renegotiation in 2012 while Cortes was still mayor.