• Govt losing millions from Harbour Centre stake

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    THE government is losing millions of pesos each year for failing to recover a substantial equity stake in Harbour Centre Port Holdings Inc. (HCPHI), according to state-owned Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC).

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    “The government has been shortchanged millions and millions of pesos every year, because Mr. Reghis Romero [of HCPI]doesn’t want to recognize our remaining 32 percent share in HCPHI,” HGC President Manuel Sanchez said on Thursday.

    “All these years he is acting and benefiting as a full owner of HCPHI. We don’t have any seat in the board although we own 32 percent of the company. They don’t give us a copy of the records. So, we don’t know how much they are making a year and how much we are entitled every year,” he added.

    The remaining 68 percent is currently held by R-II Builders.

    The government and R-II Builders formed a joint venture to develop the Smokey Mountain Housing project, with the government holding 60-percent stake and the remaining equity under the name of Reghis Romero.

    But Sanchez noted that Romero claimed for additional works for the project valued at 28 percent of the joint venture. The claim was approved by the Governing Board of Smokey Mountain.

    This diluted the equity holdings of HGC to 28 percent.

    At present, there is a pending case before the Court of Appeals as HGC attempts to recover the 28 percent stake in HCPHI.

    Sanchez also said HGC rejected the offer to compensate the government for the controversial Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation (SMDR) project.

    “Mr. Reghis Romero is making an offer which is not acceptable to us, primarily because, number one, of the amount that he is offering and, number two, because of the conflicting claims and most of these claims are actively being pursued in different courts,” Sanchez said.

    In a letter to HGC on June 10, Romero has offered P2.9 billion to reimburse the state-owned firm’s exposure in SMDR project.

    “He offered P2.9 billion for the whole area, which is worth P9.5 billion. Romero also wants mutual withdrawal of cases. If we do that, the claims of the government will be lost forever,” the HGC official noted.

    “We have to make sure that the settlement would be fair and proper,” he said.
    “The terms must be advantageous to the government,” he added.

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