By NITZ ARANCON,
THE capitol has yet to rid its sidewalks and roads of illegal structures and other obstructions despite the Duterte administration’s order to all local governments to “reclaim” all public roads and sidewalks within 60 days or by Sept. 29.
At presstime, no capitol official has given a clear explanation for the inaction, and they have kept mum in the face of questions about what they intend to do. Capitol officials have also come on strong against the idea of “outsiders” coming in and doing the road-cleaning themselves.
The Gold Star Daily learned that many of the obstructions on the sidewalks and roads around the capitol are extensions of stalls covered by a 2013 agreement between Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and a mysterious woman by the name of Rhea Ritzie P. Nueva.
Nothing much is known about Nueva except that she is said to be a resident of Barra, Opol town in Misamis Oriental who, by some stroke of luck in 2013, was granted an extraordinary privilege to lease a prime property, build stalls on it, and then engage in subletting at rates her company alone sets.
On March 17, 2017, Melina Pioquinto, acting provincial board secretary, issued a certification upon the request of Philippine Red Cross-Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro chapter administrator Nancy Joy A. Tolinero that “per records of this office, no resolution has been passed and approved by the 16th SangguniangPanlalawigan of Misamis Oriental, approving the execution of lease contract agreement (memorandum of agreement) by and between the provincial government of Misamis Oriental and Rhea Ritzie P. Nueva relative to the vacant space” across the NMMC.
Pioquinto’s certificate also reads in part: “This is to certify further that the office of the SangguniangPanlalawigan has not received any lease contract agreement or memorandum of agreement pertaining to the above-mentioned vacant space.”
The agreement allowed Nueva to rent a 1,029-square meter capitol property across the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) for P102,900 a month. Misamis Oriental’s 2015 Revenue Code provides a rent of P100 for every square meter.
Nueva, in the agreement notarized by lawyer Lizzamae Grace A. Laviña, was also allowed to construct a multi-unit edifice on that property, and then rent the units out to others.
One document shows Nueva declaring the nature of her business as a “sub lessor” of 17 units of a multi-unit stall.
The 2013 Emano-Nueva agreement did not authorize the extensions, road obstructions, and other eyesores. In fact, the memorandum of agreement provides that Nueva is supposed to “coordinate with the designated official of the province, regarding the beautification, cleanliness, and sanitation of the area leased, and to comply with all sanitation rules and safety regulations which are promulgated by the government or regarding the use and occupation of the leased premises.”
While the 2013 agreement applied only to the capitol property across the NMMC, another document shows that Nueva’s company “Capitol Lease Ventures” or another group called “Northern Capitol Lease Ventures” represented by one “Rheta Mae ParrelSagrado,” was the lessor of another capitol property within the compound, and that it was subleasing at least 10 stalls to vendors.
Incidentally, a tax document shows Nueva dropping her middle initial “P” and using the name “Nueva, Rhea RitzieSagrado” of “Capitol Lease Ventures” with the given address “Capitol Compound Barangay 27.” The address given for Rheta Mae ParrelSagrado’s “Northern Capitol Lease Ventures” was also “Capitol Compound Barangay 27.” It is unclear if Capitol Lease Ventures and Northern Capitol Lease Ventures — and its owners — are one and the same.
All in all, based on documents, Nueva’s Capitol Lease Ventures and ParrelSagrado’s Northern Capitol Lease Ventures dictate the rates and terms in the lease of at least 27 stalls built in the capitol compound, many of which have encroached on sidewalks and roads around the seat of the provincial government.
Former broadcaster Errand Mercado said she once paid P8 thousand a month in exchange for being allowed to share a small stall with a food vendor on the property between the capitol tennis court and the regional office of the National Bureau of Investigation. The amount, she said, was enough to cover the stall holder’s monthly rent.