• Davao mayor wants apology from Manila-based port developer

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    DAVAO CITY: A controversy is starting to unfold between Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and the Manila-based Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc. (Mega Harbour) as the mayor demanded apology from the port developer for telling her how and when to do her job.

    Carpio recently terminated the Mega Harbour project, a joint venture that was inked last year between the developer and the city government under her father, now President Rodrigo Duterte.

    The joint venture– “Davao Coastline and Development Project” with P40 billion estimated budget–involves reclamation of a 200-hectare mixed-use complex for an international port, commercial spaces, residential houses and government offices and will cover Santa Ana Port toward the Bucana area.

    In a letter provided to the media on Thursday, the mayor said her office already informed Mega Harbour last month about the decision of the city government not to proceed with the project.

    “The decision came after about more than a year of careful review and study of the available documents and after weighing out the intentions of the project against its commercial viability, legal and social implications and the project’s possible effects on the environment,” she added.

    But the decision was not well received by the port developer, which criticized the mayor in a statement it issued last week.

    “There goes the story of the Davao Coastline and Port Development Project–now being reduced to a mere memory of a historic vision–as it takes only a daughter to thumb down what her father and predecessor has proudly propped up,” Mega Harbour said.

    It added that the incumbent Davao City mayor has not been directly involved or allowed herself to be comprehensively briefed on the project.

    In her response on Thursday, the mayor said she does not want to belabor the merits and basis of the joint venture agreement, adding, “We can save that argument for the right time and the proper venue.”

    She refuted Mega Harbour’s claim that the decision “put [the company]in a bad light, tarnished [its]reputation and subjected [it]to humiliation.”

    “As the local chief executive, I have the obligation to inform the public of my decision after a year of telling them that I will review the project documents. The fulfillment of my obligation is not publicity, it is accountability,” the mayor said.

    She added, “What I did not expect from you is to call me out as a reckless, callous and unethical individual. You should be the last person to speak about ethics if you write letters such as the one I received.”

    The company threatened the mayor with legal action.

    The scrapping of the joint venture was lauded by various groups here.

    Alexander D. Lopez

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