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Let the records speak

Constantino Jaraula .

I HAVE been ridiculed and vilified in 2013 in connection with the “unfinished” renovation of the Amphitheater  by two “jokers” or pseudo and/or irresponsible commentators. One already joined his Creator and the other is fast jumping into oblivion. But recently, two other commentators of the same hew did it again. I let it pass in 2013 as I was still in politics. But now I am fully retired therefrom and I can no longer resist the repeated URGINGS of friends and sympathizers to come out with the records.

Let us have a brief historical background. The block referred to as the Amphitheater, from Burgos to Capistrano Streets, used to be the Public Market. The western half was the “wet” portion and the upper half was for dry goods. The other block from Capistrano to Rizal Streets was likewise for dry goods. In 1958 the Cogon Market was made operational under the leadership of Mayor Justiniano “Tinying” Borja and Vice Mayor Jesus “Jake” Seriña.

Under the same leadership the entire “Divisoria Park” from Burgos to Corrales was fully developed and was recipient of a national award in 1963 for “beautification” among local governments. City Engineer Herminio Lucero was the designer and trusted official of Mayor Borja.  It is unfortunate he died not long thereafter.

For sometime before I took over as mayor in July 2007, the Amphitheater was non-operational and was in fact closed with barbwire. It was “over-used” and needed rehabilitation. This was aggravated by the need for additional space in the City Hall complex so that taxpayers would not jump from one office to another area, wasting so much time in between. The main building at the City Hall complex was constructed in 1936 under Mayor Julio Pacana, at the back of which was constructed in 1966 under Mayor Seriña. At the back of the Seriña building is the Barangay or Tourism Hall under Mayor Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. in the early ’80s.

When I took over in 2007, city councilors did not have individual offices which we used to have. There was a demand for a One-Stop-Shop to consolidate the city offices and save taxpayers’ time and expense. Expansion of the City Hall Complex was a great challenge. I humbly accepted the challenge and conceived of the “Golden Mile Project” the principal features of which were: enhancement of the river bank to prevent flooding; expansion of City Hall; construction of a multi-storey City Center to house a respectable Public Library, Tourism and Museum,  with commercial floors to partly finance the Project; redevelopment of the Amphitheater to be integrated with the City Center.

With local funds, we were able to construct in 2009 the Legislative and Administrative Buildings surrounding the Barangay/Tourism Hall by buying the old residential area of the late Assemblyman Isidro “Nyor Idroy” Vamenta and a portion of the late Edmundo Chaves’ property for a “discounted rate” of P13,000/sqm which former City Councilor Lourdes “Inday” Laviña considered a huge bargain since the prevailing price was at P25,000/sqm. Our appreciation and gratitude. The bold plan was to acquire all the areas bounded by the river bank and Burgos Street up to Hotel Ramon (owned by the Laviña family). This would have engaged us in a long negotiation with the owners: Chaves, Reyes, Roa, Montalvan, Gacula, and Pelaez families.

We started with the 782 sqm of the late Angel Chaves right beside Hotel Ramon and at the back of the Amphitheater, with the very specific purpose of putting up the City Center, also at a bargain. Our appreciation and gratitude to Charisse (Chaves) and Rafael “Pepot” Fortich. We paid off the “occupants” of the property for their houses (whether paying or non-paying of rentls) and they demolished the same and vacated the area. In fact, this generous couple donated one million (P1,000,000.00) pesos as their contribution to the construction of the City Center with the condition that proper acknowledgment thereof be placed in the Center Marker. The amount was deposited with the City Treasurer’s Office.

And there would have been a foot/pedestrian bridge at the back of the City Center towards Barangay Carmen, in the area owned by the late Domingo Vamenta. This was and still is a necessity since the Ysalina Bridge is always congested and dangerous to pedestrians. A view from the Science building of Xavier University the Golden Friendship Park would have been extended up to Barangay Carmen. Of course, it was fully understood at the time that all these could not be accomplished in just “one term”.  And I only had one term.

All the foregoing were covered by corresponding resolutions and ordinances, none of which has been repealed. They are available at the City Council for the honest and responsible commentators and scholars. If the “other” commentators devote even only 10 percent of their “enthusiasm“ to delving on the 20-year old Yellow Elephant in Taguanao (proposed International Convention Center) which allegedly has been given no less than half a billion pesos and still is unused and rotting they will be doing good for the City.

Here are the Titles of the Ordinances and Resolutions mentioned above:

Resolution No. 9305 – 2008

“Resolution Adopting the Golden Mile Project consisting of (600) Six Hundred Meters of Walkway from the junction of Toribio Chaves Street to the proposed Boulevard along the river bank , going upstream to the 5th Bridge, and 1 kilometer of Boulevard from Toribio Chaves Street going downstream to J.R. Borja Street (or thereabout). Correspondingly authorizing the dredging and reclamation of the Cagayan River as may be convenient and necessary for the early completion of the Project; and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to negotiate with any person, entity, or Corporation to undertake the Project or any part thereof, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the final approval of the Sangguniang Panglungsod.” (Unanimously Carried on September 8, 2008)

Resolution No. 9306 – 2008

“Resolution Authorizing the Redevelopment of the Golden Friendship Park (formerly Divisoria), including the extension of the same up to the proposed Boulevard along the River Bank and all the way to Barangay Carmen through a Walk Bridge, and the consequent acquisition of the area behind the Amphitheater, and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to conduct negotiations with any person, entity, or Corporation, as may be necessary to fulfill the foregoing functions, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the approval of the Sangguniang Panglungsod.” (Unanimously carried on September 8, 2008)

Ordinance No. 11262 – 2008

“An Ordinance Authorizing Honorable City Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula to immediately implement or undertake the Redevelopment of the Community Amphitheater Area at Divisoria, this City, as part of the Golden Mile Project, and further authorizing: the City Mayor to negotiate with Mr. Angel Chaves for the acquisition of his property affected by the said Project and to file expropriation proceedings in Court in case of failure thereof.” (Unanimously Approved Dec. 15, 2008)

Resolution No. 9560 – 2009

“Resolution Authorizing the Construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater (Chaves Lot to be acquired by the City) and the Immediate Bidding process therefor after compliance of basic requirements and in connection with the Redevelopment of the Amphitheater, further Authorizing the Construction of an Elevated Floor for the Amphitheater with the present Ground Floor serving as the area for Pay Parking and the Stage over Burgos Street, and other purposes.” (Carried by Majority on February 24, 2009)

Ordinance No. 11379 – 2009

“An Ordinance Appropriating the sum of P10,975,881.00from the Item “Non – Office Land Acquisition/Expropriation” in the 2009 Annual Budget to be made available for the full payment of the claim for just compensation including Registration and Documentation expenses of the Lot owned by Mr. Angel Chaves, located at Barangay No. 6, this City, which was affected by the construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater; and for this purpose, authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to sign the Deed of Absolute Sale thereof. (Approved by Majority on May 5, 2009)

(Constantino Jaraula is a lawyer, a former councilor, a former congressman and a former mayor of Cagayan de Oro.)

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