THE land swap deal being pushed by the Cebu City Council is only a fall-back plan in case negotiations fail between the Capitol and occupants of province-owned lots under Provincial Ordinance 93-1.
"It's like telling the occupants that if they can't agree with the provincial government, there is still hope. Just don't make Mike Rama win (in the elections)," said Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City's south district.
Osmeña said reviving the land swap would put pressure on Rama and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to make the best deal for the occupants.
"She (Garcia) wants to run for the Senate? Then we can tell all the urban poor groups in the country what she has done to the urban poor groups in Cebu City," said the congressman in a press conference held at his Guadalupe home yesterday.
Governor Garcia earlier called moves to revive the land swap proposal “irrelevant” since occupants have signed an agreement with the Capitol that allows them to directly purchase the lots or do so through a socialized housng program.
"I hope that Gwen will make a deal that is satisfactory to (93-1) occupants then it (a land swap) will be irrelevant," said Osmeña.
He said while he and the council aren't forcing Rama and Garcia to sign the land swap deal, the opposition of the two officials would earn them the ire of the occupants.
Councilor Margot Osmeña said based on the outcome of the public hearing on Wednesday, not all lot occupants could afford the new land prices presented by the Capitol.
"Those who can afford want the agreement, but there are those who cannot afford," she said.
Rep. Osmeña said if the land swap is pursued, the city government can help the families acquire the land they now occupy.
He said it's more difficult for lot occupants to deal with the Capitol since they are non-voters of the province.
Osmeña said the city government would resort to creative financing to help out the occupants.
He said this would mean the city sharing the land cost of the lots.
“It means the city government would take a certain percentage of the lot cost while the rest will be paid by the occupant,” Osmeña said.
If the settlers decide to sell their properties, they will have to give a share to the city which is equivalent to the percentage of lot cost which it subsidized, the former mayor turned congressman added.
Osmeña said an option is to allow lot occupants to pay their amortization with minimal cost during the first year of payment.
Payment dues will then be increased by five percent every year thereafter.
Another option is to extend payment terms.
Rep. Osmeña said he believes the value of the property is not a concern since the bigger consideration is the capability of the occupants to pay for the lots they occupy.
"We can always make a deal. We are open to anything. We are not fixed on anything. Anything that is reasonable, we are open to it," he said. /Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac