Here are the top five stories in terms of page views and impact on the business community and Cebuanos in general.
1. MEZ locators up for relocation to give way for 2nd runway
The Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) finally disclosed its plan to take back its property that is being used for the Mactan Economic Zone and build the proposed second runway there.
The 150 MEZ locators, on the other hand, will be relocated to a proposed reclamation area in the Magellan Bay, still in Lapu-Lapu City. This new site will be transformed into a “smart city” with direct access to a cargo terminal at the airport.
The second runway, reclamation area and a third terminal building are components of a P208-billion unsolicited proposal for the expansion of the airport. Terminal operator GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) has been granted original proponent status for this project.
Meanwhile, MCIAA has conducted a bidding for the civil works for the parallel taxiway project.
The consortium of Duros Development Corporation and China Construction First Group Corporation is likely to be awarded the project as it submitted a bid of P2.078 billion, lower than the P2.099-billion approved budget of contract.
2. Major projects further delayed
Politics have further delayed the implementation of the Mananga dam project and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
The Mananga dam project was targeted for bidding before the end of 2019 and construction was to start in 2021 if undertaken through the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
The project has been on the table for over 30 years and this would be the second time that MCWD would attempt to implement the project.
This time, the number of people affected has doubled to more than 1,000 households from about 500 in 2015 while the project cost has ballooned to P10 billion from P4.78 billion in 2015.
Estimated yield, on the other hand, is lower at 80,000 cubic meters per day compared to the 100,000 cubic meters per day as assessed in 1985 and 95,000 cubic meters per day in 1994.
The proposed dam would be 80 meters, lower than the original proposal of 90 meters and higher than the version proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at 73 meters.
But MCWD, a government-owned or controlled corporation that is supposed to implement the project, is rocked by politics, with newly elected Cebu City Mayor Edgardo C. Labella terminating the services of the Board of Directors on October 15.
The P16-billion Cebu BRT project, which has been delayed for more than five years, is not a priority project of the Duterte administration, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto M. Pernia said.
The project was approved for financing by the World Bank in September 2014. The loan has a closing date of June 30, 2021.
Implementation of the project, which was being pushed by former Cebu City mayor Tomas R. Osmeña, has been derailed because of opposition from Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael L. Dino, who was pushing for a light rail transit (LRT) system instead.
Both the BRT and LRT will now be part of the Metro Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport System. But instead of an LRT, a monorail system will be established for Metro Cebu.
The monorail, Cebu Rail Project, is proposed to be undertaken by Udenna Infrastructure Corporation for P80 billion.
Udenna’s original proposal envisioned an LRT system that would run from Danao City down to Carcar City in southern Cebu, covering six cities and five municipalities. Udenna submitted its $3-billion proposal for the LRT to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in July 2018.
Under the revised proposal, there will be two lines for the monorail: the 17-kilometer Central Line from Talisay City to Cebu City; and the 9-kilometer Airport Line from Cebu City to the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has announced a target of end-2021 for the intermodal transport system.
3. Cebu bans Luzon pork, meat after ASF outbreak
The Department of Agriculture confirmed an African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak on July 25, 2019.
In a December 27, 2019 report, a Food and Agriculture Organization quoted the DA as saying that there have been a total of 24 ASF outbreaks in nine provinces/cities on Luzon Island. As of November 30, 2019, 497 barangays were said to be affected, with 136,770 pigs were said to have been depopulated.
The affected areas are Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Cavite Provinces, and Metro Manila (Caloocan, Malabon and Quezon cities).
The outbreak has prompted more than 60 local government units, including Cebu, to ban shipments of live hogs, pork and pork-based products from Luzon.
The ban in Cebu, which was supposed to end on December 28, 2019, has been extended to June 30, 2020 and expanded to cover chicken, fish, and all kinds of meat products that were stored in the same facility as pork, pork products and by-products from Luzon.
The ASF outbreak has caused swine inventory and prices to go down.
As of October 1, 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority said there were only 13.01 million heads of swine in backyard and commercial farms. This was a 0.9% decrease from 13.13 million heads in the same period in 2018.
The PSA also reported that the average farmgate price of hogs upgraded for slaughter in July to September 2019 was P103.66 per kilogram, liveweight, or 10.2% lower than the average farmgate price of P115.40 per kilogram, liveweight, in 2018.
4. Cebu suffers drop in competitiveness, but remains wealthiest province
Cebu’s competitiveness score dropped based on the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI).
In 2015, both Cebu Province and Cebu City ranked third among provinces and highly urbanized cities, respectively.
Cebu Province, with a score of 36.654, then came after Davao del Sur (No. 1) and Misamis Oriental (No. 2) while Cebu City scored 51.1894 and followed Manila (No. 1) and Makati (No. 2).
The next year, 2016, Cebu Province suffered a huge drop as it ranked 31st, or 28 notches down, with its score going down to 24.5965.
Cebu City also slipped, but only by 3 notches to settle at 6th place, after Quezon, Makati, Manila, Pasig and Davao, in that order. Its score was 41.3616.
In 2017, Cebu province slid further to rank 44th among the provinces, with an overall competitiveness score of 32.75
Cebu City also slipped again, this time by 8 notches to settle at 13th place, with a score of 44.8478.
In 2018, Cebu province slightly recovered and climbed 19 slots to rank 25th with a score of 37.0401.
Cebu City, on the other hand, broke into the top 10 again and ranked 9th with a score of 49.8679.
The city scored high in economic dynamism, infrastructure and resiliency but lagged in government efficiency.
For 2019, neither Cebu province nor Cebu City made it to the top 3. The Department of Trade and Industry has yet to release the rankings of all the 1,518 cities and municipalities covered by the index.
Four towns - Liloan, San Remigio, Ronda and Poor - and one component city, Toledo, were counted among the top 3 local governments in their respective categories.
Cebu, however, remained the wealthiest province in the country.
For the fifth consecutive year since 2014, Cebu was listed as the wealthiest province in the country by the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2018.
Cebu City, on the other hand, was fifth on the list of cities with the biggest amount of total assets and No. 1 among the cities with the biggest liabilities.
According to the COA 2018 annual financial report for local government, Cebu province had total assets of P35.6 billion, consisting of P7.38-billion current assets and P28.27-billion non-current assets.
Cebu was, however, also among the top 10 provinces with the biggest liabilities, ranking fourth with total liabilities of P4.3 billion, after Negros Occidental, Palawan and Isabela. The bulk of Cebu’s liabilities, P4.19 billion, is current.
Cebu City, on the other hand, had equity of only P9.38 billion in 2018.
While it ranked fifth among the cities with the biggest total assets, it emerged on top of the list of cities with the biggest total liabilities.
Cebu City had total assets of P33.88 billion and total liabilities of P24.49 billion, the highest among the cities. The entire amount is current.
The year 2019, however, was significant for Cebu City because it was declared among the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities.
UNESCO Creative Cities are laboratories of ideas and innovative practices that bring a tangible contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative thinking and action.
5. Kapa: Biggest investment scam
The Securities and Exchange Commission called Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (Kapa) the biggest investment scam in the Philippines in recent history.
Kapa members were enticed to make a “donation” of a minimum of P10,000 and maximum of P2 million, with a promised monthly dividend equivalent to 30% of the “donation” for life.
SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino, in a press conference on Monday, June 10, 2019, called Kapa a case of an affinity fraud, wherein a certain leader or founder takes advantage of the faith and trust of the members.
Kapa started in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur six years ago but established offices and recruited members in several key cities in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.
Aquino said Kapa is even bigger than the Aman Futures scam in 2012 which defrauded around 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao for P12 billion.
Charges have been filed against Kapa founders and officials. (Ventures Cebu)