Cebu gov says sorry for land mess

August 15, 2009 CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia apologized to the people of Cebu for what she said were lapses in the purchase of a coastal property that was partly submerged in seawater and filled with mangroves.

Garcia made the public apology after a survey by the provincial government showed that 9.3 ha of the 25-ha property the province bought in Naga town in 2008 was underwater.

The property, owned by the Balili family, was acquired by the province for P98 million.

Self-proclaimed antigraft crusader Crisologo Saavedra later claimed that while P98.9 million was paid by the government for the property, Amparo Balili, the widow of Luis Balili, claimed she only received P65 million.

On Thursday, Garcia admitted that, indeed, portion of the lot was submerged in water or filled with mangroves.

“So I say I am sorry. As your governor I continue to believe in the Cebuanos and I’ll be careful from now on,” Garcia said on Thursday.

Lawyer Marino Martinquilla, provincial attorney, was expected to issue a demand letter to the Balili camp to refund P37.8 million.

Garcia’s critics, however, challenged the Ombudsman to investigate further and file cases against provincial officials.

John Osmeña, former senator, sent a letter to the Ombudsman Visayas on Friday, asking the antigraft office to examine the deal closely, saying Garcia’s statement could not erase her liabilities, criminally and administratively.

“The admission of negligence by Governor Gwen Garcia ... does not exculpate her from criminal and administrative liability,” said Osmeña in his letter to the Ombudsman. (Inquirer)

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