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THE residents of Manila are being taken for a ride on the issue of the Divisoria property where the mall was built.

When this issue was brought up by the camp of the candidates going up against leading Presidential candidate, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna who is clearly headed for a landslide win as the new mayor of Manila, those behind it apparently did not do their research well.

The accusers obviously did not expect that the issue would boomerang, when the report that came back to us showed that the sale of the property, which they are assailing, is actually rooted on the contract entered into by the late Mayor Mel Lopez, in March 1992.

There is no intention to malign the late Mayor Mel Lopez here. We are merely stating facts.

The said contract allowed the lease of Divisoria Property at P20 per square meter per month, over a period of 25 years, with 10 percent increase in rental every three years. Over the said 25 years, the city of Manila was able to collect only more than P57 million or less than P3 million a year.

And then the pandemic came. The city government needed money for its COVID response and to bring much-needed help for its residents of 700,000 families. This is no joke.

The mayor needed funds to implement his many plans to help Manila residents in the thick of the pandemic which was marked by unemployment, hunger and lack of funds due to lack of economic activities.

The city government’s Asset Management Committee (ASC) then made an inventory of patrimonial properties of the City of Manila and recommended to dispose of non-performing assets and this recommendation included selling the Divisoria Property with a land area of 8,000 square meters since it is not bringing in needed revenues.

The hands of the city government were tied by the contract which had to be honored, being a perfect one. Mayor Lim, who succeeded the administration of Mayor Lopez, was also bound to honor the contract so there is really no need to drag his name here, as what those from the accuser’s camp are doing, to mislead the people of Manila into believing that we are disrespecting the late mayor.

I repeat, Mayor Lim had nothing to do with the contract’s perfection and we never mentioned his name.

I admit though, that we were forced to mention the name of the late Mayor Lopez since it was he who actually entered into the said contract. That contract tied the hands of the city government from increasing rentals and since the pegged rate is no longer attuned to present times, the property involved became ‘underperforming.’

Since it is underperforming, the property fell into the list of properties which should be disposed of so that the local government can address the needs of the residents in the middle of the pandemic.

The city was thus able to provide a total of P2,000 (P1,000 given on two occasions) to 700,000 families under the cash assistance city amelioration crisis assistance fund (CACAF) along with food boxes that were given to the same number of families for a total of eight months. These are aside from the funding that were put in the city hospitals, buying equipments and medicines to fight COVID, the building of a COVID hospital along with machines for the free RT-PCR testing and storage facilities for the vaccines.

When Mayor Isko was scrounging for funds, these accusers were nowhere to be found. They did not donate a single can of sardines for the benefit of the residents. Now they are questioning the move of the city to dispose of a non-performing asset so the city can feed its people?

These accusers also did not donate a single centavo when the city government needed to provide cash aid for the residents who lost their livelihood and employment.

Please, don’t take Manilans for a fool. They know what the local government had done for them and they are fully aware that they got no help from these people who are now hurling baseless accusations in the name of politics.


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