Review of market contract sought

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BAGUIO CITY – Councilor Peter Fianza proposed the review of the market development design and agreement between the city and the Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corporation prior to the implementation of the long delayed project.

In a proposed resolution, Fianza sought to authorize Mayor Mauricio Domogan to create a committee to conduct the review and make recommendations to jumpstart the project.

“Now that the cases have been decided with finality, legal issues have been put to rest and there should be no more impediments against the implementation of the contract.  There is however imperative to review the entire development project of the city public market to consider intervening events that took place during the stoppage or suspension of its implementation,” Fianza said.

Fianza said the review is necessary considering that the “critical and substantial period of 20 years supposed to be addressed by the project per pre-feasibility study accordingly conducted has passed and services and facilities such as those by SM, Puregold and other malls which were intended to be provided are now in existence that should require attention to reconsider the commercial sustainability, potential development impact, complexity, costs and other planning and policy inputs of the project.”

He said there is also a need to look into the capacity of the Uniwide to implement the project “as it will appear that as early as 1999, it was failing to satisfy certain obligations that it petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission for Declaration of Suspension of Payments, Formation and Appointment of a Rehabilitation Receiver/Committee and Approval of a Rehabilitation Plan that was denied in the  decision of the Commission issued on May 30, 2013 in SEC En Banc Case No. 12-09-183  and SEC En Banc Case No. 01-10-193 which further directed dissolution of the corporation.”

Fianza suggested that the city council authorize the mayor to form a review a committee which may be headed by the Local Economic and Investment Officer (LEIPO) with a technical working group.

The committee can seek or coordinate the assistance of appropriate agencies like the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center created under Executive Order No. 8, Series of 2010 which is mandated to monitor and facilitate the implementation of priority programs and projects of local government units by guiding them through the PPP project cycle that will include project appraisal and review and which may possibly provide fund for pre-investment activities of potential PPP projects. He said the PPP Manual for LGUs which the PPP Center has produced includes a template for an LGU Shopping Center and Public Market that can be utilized for the review.

The Supreme Court last Sept. 2, affirmed the validity and constitutionality of Ordinance No. 38 series of 1995 which provides the guidelines for the market development along with the award of the project development to Uniwide and the amended DBL agreement.

Last November, Uniwide wrote the mayor signifying its intention to continue the project to feature an eight-storey edifice while also assuring the company’s capability to undertake the long-shelved project.

Uniwide chair Jimmy Gow promised the city to submit a new building design, structure and engineering plan within six months to one year.  The documents will include the new cost estimates.

The original plan approved under the lease agreement forged in 1996 provides for a six-storey building with a total cost of P1.7 billion.  Uniwide will operate the upper floors for 30 years while the first floor where the main market place and legitimate vendors will be housed will continue to be operated by the city government.

The mayor assured the vendors that the development of the market will not happen outright as the city still needs to settle many issues before the development project can push through.

He said the city still has to wait for the finality of the court order to seal the issue on the legality of the design-build-lease scheme for the market development.

Then, the city will wait for the revised plans and cost estimate for the project which will then be submitted for scrutiny and approval of the city council.

After this, the city and Uniwide will have to tackle the ground preparations before the project can take off including the relocation site for the vendors at the Slaughterhouse compound.

He again assured the vendors they will not be evicted from the city market as long as they are legitimate stallholders.

Uniwide won the bid for the project in 1995 but the development project was stalled after four cases were filed separately in 1996 against city officials and Uniwide. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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