Dumaguete mayor and council suspend signing of contract with smart city developer

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Despite this latest development, it looks like the Smart City recovery project is far from dead

The city of Dumaguete Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) granted the mayor Felipe Remollo request to withdraw authorization to sign an agreement with developer EM Cuerpo, Inc. (EMCI) for the controversial 174-hectare smart city reclamation project.

In a special session on Friday September 10, the SP offered to approve Remollo’s request sent by letter dated September 8.

However, Remollo noted in its letter that the withdrawal “is without prejudice …”

No councilor opposed the motion approving Remollo’s withdrawal request – a stark contrast to the council’s repeated votes affirming the authority it initially granted on July 7 despite the lack of public consultation.

The move comes after strong opposition from residents, scientists, environmental and civic groups, local government units and religious leaders, following the public disclosure of the reclamation project.

Marine scientists have sounded the alarm about the potential for the rehabilitation of massive ecological damage and the displacement of the livelihoods of fishermen. Lawyers and watchdogs have also questioned EMCI’s qualifications and ties to Chinese state-owned company Poly Changda.

Remollo told the board he made the request “after careful consideration and careful consideration of the factual and legal circumstances. [ramifications]” of the project.

Despite Remollo’s decision, it looks like the Smart City recovery project is far from dead.

In his request to the SP, the mayor asked the city council to postpone the signing and service of the award notice to EMCI as the winner of the Swiss challenge “until and after the board of directors of the [PRA] must have examined and validated the entire call for tenders process carried out by the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) selection committee so as not to prejudge an action or a decision in this area by the PRA .

The PRA, in a letter to the SP which was read during the extraordinary session, confirmed that the Dumaguete city government has no pending application for the project and has not complied with the necessary requirements. to start the project. The agency had already confirmed this during a political dialogue on August 3.

The PRA has also “never received a request for review from Dumaguete for the Swiss challenge and for the terms of reference of the spontaneous proposal from EMCI”. According to the PRA, this authorization is required prior to the conduct of the Swiss challenge for the reclamation project in order to ensure the fairness of the selection process.

Councilor Rosel Erames noted that the authority granted to request a refurbishment with the PRA “is still valid” and that the mayor would only have to “ask the city council again to issue a resolution of no objection “to formally initiate the refurbishment request process with the PRA.

The SP withdrew the no-objection resolution on July 21 amid public outcry against the project.

“FYI, a Memorandum of Understanding is not a requirement in the PRA application process. It’s good that the mayor finally found out, ”Erames told Rappler.

Lawyer Golda Benjamin, one of the main supporters of the project, stressed the importance of the withdrawal, but urged the population to continue to voice their opposition until the project is finally abandoned.

“The people won another battle today. The mayor’s act is an admission that this document had no legal basis in the first place. We must, however, step up all protests inside and outside the city council so that our councilors end up killing this project because it is illegal, corrupt, disastrous for the environment and anti-poor, ”Benjamin told Remind. – Rappler.com

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