By NITZ ARANCON
THE public works and environment departments interposed no objection when the city council deliberated on a proposed official endorsement of the application for foreshore lease of businessman Conrad Lim to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) in 2008, former councilor Alexander Dacer said over the weekend.
Dacer’s revelation came in the wake of a controversy surrounding Lim’s reclamation area in Barangay Lapasan that is preventing the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from finishing a P4-billion coastal road project started two decades ago.
Lim, now the chairman of Barangay 33, is embroiled in a legal dispute over the reclamation area that he fenced–he has been told that the DPWH needs part of the property in order to complete a four-lane road that is seen to ease the vehicular traffic congestion on CM Recto Avenue. Officials said the reclamation area is public domain.
Dacer said he was the councilor who endorsed the approval of the city council resolution in support of Lim’s application to the PRA.
The other city council members at that time who voted in favor of the resolution were Caesar Ian Acenas, Simeon Licayan, Marycor Calizo, Alden Bacal, Dante Pajo, President Elipe, Ian Mark Nacaya, Emmanuel Abejuela, Aaron Neri Sr. and Kreena Vi Poquita. Neri was president of the Association of Barangay Councils while Poquita was president of the Sanggunian Kabataan Federation in the city at that time.
Those who objected to the approval of the city council resolution were councilors Teodulfo Lao Jr. and Zaldy Ocon, and the then councilor Roger Abaday.
Lim’s father-in-law, then-councilor Alfonso Goking, did not vote. But according to Councilor Lao in an earlier interview, Goking presided over the city council session at that time because the then vice mayor Vicente Emano was on “official business.”
The then councilors Adrian Barba and Ramon Tabor were absent.
City Council Resolution 9319-2008 endorsed Lim’s lease application covering 2,850 square meters of Lapasan’s foreshore. Its head reads: “Resolution interposing no objection to the foreshore lease application of Mr. Conrad Lim covering a parcel of land located at Barangay Lapasan, this city, with an area of 2,850 square meters.”
Dacer said he endorsed and voted for the city council resolution because the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) did not object to it when the matter was being deliberated in the committee level.
“During our committee meeting, DPWH and DENR did not say that it cannot be done,” he said.
In fact, Dacer claimed, representatives of the DPWH and DENR told the city council committee that they have no problems with Lim’s request for a city council resolution because the application was a matter for the PRA to approve or reject.
“Kanang resolution, dili man kana bala-od. Puwede kana aprobahan sa PRA, puwede sab dili. Depende na nila,” Dacer said.
Lawyer Antonio Soriano, a former vice mayor, said the councilors who approved the endorsement of Lim’s application cannot be held liable.
“The city council resolution is merely a requirement needed for reclamation. It was not an approval. But it shows that they (councilors) didn’t object,” Soriano said.
Last week, DPWH officials told the city council that there were repeated attempts to talk to Lim about the reclamation area but their representatives were told to go to court. They also said Lim only secured a PRA amnesty–a document granting release from punishment for an offense–for undertaking the reclamation project without a national government green light.