MOTHBALLED P300 MILLION PROJECT RISES FROM THE DEAD
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Will the Artica Sports Center—the unfinished P300 million city government project mothballed by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for being a ‘monument of corruption’—rise from the dead?
Former Davao City mayor Benjamin de Guzman—under whose administration the edifice at the outskirt barangay of Langub—hopes so, if he wins the race for the vice mayorship in 2010.
Partnering with Speaker Prospero Nograles, the standard bearer of the Lakas/Kampi/CMD, de Guzman is hoping to redeem his political stock with a crack at the post he held in 1995. A former ally of Duterte, de Guzman won as mayor in 1998 but was trashed by Duterte in the 2001 elections.
“Davao is suffering today with the disrepute of being a “billionaire city” without a decent sporting facility “but who knows it may end up with not just one but two world-class sports domes” local media reports quoted de Guzman as saying.
Nograles, who will be facing up with Vice Mayor Sara Duterte in the mayoral race, is playing up the city’s lack of a sports center as a propaganda spin in an apparent slap at the Duterte administration alleged lack of focus on sports.
He has set aside funds for a sports center to be built at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) campus in Bo. Obrero and set to be completed before the May elections.
De Guzman, according to the reports, has said that the prospects of having two domes is likely, stressing there is no legal impediment to the resumption of the completion of the Artica Sports Dome project that he initiated. De Guzman said Artica could complement the P100-million Nograles Sports Dome.
Mayor Duterte during the 2001 electoral campaign had used the Artica Dome as a political propaganda against de Guzman —tagging the unfinished edifice as a “monument of corruption” of the de Guzman administration.
OF NOGIE, DE GUZMAN, GHOSTS AND ZOMBIES AND THE FAT GOATS OF ARTICA DOOM
The Artica was at the center of jokes that the comebacking Mayor Duterte delivered in his verbal harangue against de Guzman, alleging corruption in speeches back-dropped by a large streamer showing the edifice and fat goats feeding on tall grasses at the foreground. Duterte said only goats benefited from de Guzman’s wanton waste of public money in the building also called by others as the “Artica Doom.”
As soon as he was back at City Hall after the 2001 polls, he had the construction of the sports center stopped, with about P150 million of the P300 million loan from the Land Bank taken out for the project.
The Artica Dome further became a butt of jokes when some quarters suggested it be completed and converted into a crematorium and mausoleum as the city’s public cemeteries become overcrowded.
A city councilor also had suggested earlier that Davao City could land in the Book of Guinness if it converts the sports center into the “world’s biggest cockpit.”
Now de Guzman is hoping the edifice would be a monument of his political redemption.
In the reports, De Guzman said it is the “legal and moral obligation” of the city government to utilize the 12,000-seater Artica Sports Dome by completing the project.
De Guzman also brushed aside claims that there was irregularity in his sporting dome project. “The present city government already paid the P150-million bank loan transacted to build the Artica Dome,” De Guzman noted. “If there was any irregularity, why did they pay for it?”
According to De Guzman drumbeaters, the city government, assailed for its alleged lack of focus on sports development, could redeem its prestige when it would have two world-class sports centers.