Pasay City councilors on Thursday urged the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to reject the proposed 300-hectare SM land reclamation project.
Councilors Arvin “Bong” Tolentino and Richard Advincula said PRA and NEDA should not give their imprimatur to the reclamation project, citing irregularities in the approved joint venture agreement.
“The PRA has the power to issue a cease and desist order, stopping the implementation of the joint venture,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino said the council haphazardly approved the joint venture on December 23 when almost all city officials, and even ordinary folks, were on vacation mode.
“The council voted 8-5. We lost but the fight is not over,” Tolentino told Kapihan sa Aloha Hotel forum.
On December 23 last year, the City Council, led by Vice Mayor Marlon Pesebre, passed an ordinance that “recalled” the “recall” to invalidate the authority given to Mayor Antonino Calixto to enter into a contract with SM Land in developing a 300-hectare extension of the Mall of Asia (MOA).
Asked if the councilors were bribed to approve the “recall of the recall” resolution, Tolentino and Advincula just smiled without expressing any amazement.
Advincula said the ordinance to grant SM Land the right to extend the MOA was passed without transparency, making the joint project immoral and without an effect of the law.
“When the P54-billion 300-reclamation proposal was being deliberated, we were told that SM Land proposal was unsolicited and that no other firms were interested,” Tolentino said.
“SM submitted a letter of intent. A resolution was passed accepting the proposal. The mayor was given the authority to negotiate. Hearings were conducted and no objection was raised. The mayor was given the authority to enter into a contract, which was ratified by the council. It turned out, there were other proposals—one from Ayala Land and the other one was that S&P Construction Technology,” Tolentino added.
However, there is still a big possibility that the joint venture would be declared null and void, citing a Malacañang-issued Executive Order (EO) 146 dated November 13, 201e, which mandated that all reclamation proposal of the local government unit (LGU) should be reviewed by PRA and approved by NEDA before the agreement is executed.
For his part, Elmer Dorado of NEDA’ Value/Risk Analysis and Infra office, who also appeared at the forum, confirmed that EO 146 shall indeed be followed before the reclamation could start.
Tolentino and Advincula said they are confident that PRA will declare the joint venture invalid.
Sources said that the Pasay City government has already submitted to PRA a copy of the
joint venture. “But PRA is still asking for additional documents,” the source, who declined to be named for he has no authority to talk on the matter, said.
Advincula said he even called for a hearing, being chair of the committee on justice, to find out if indeed the proposals of Ayala Land and S&P Construction were dumped.
“There was no feasibility study submitted to the council. The ordinance approving the joint venture has a clause that said: the Mayor shall have the power to negotiate provided all laws and regulations are followed and applied,” Advincula said.
Under the agreement, the SM Land shall reclaim 300 hectares of the west side of Manila Bay, from Sofitel Hotel up to the boundary of Pasay City and Parañaque City. The project practically extends the now MOA property.
After the reclamation, 51 percent, or 153 hectares shall be turned over to Pasay City government as its share.
Tolentino said once the joint venture has been declared invalid, he will propose to the council to pass an ordinance creating Public Private Selection Committee, a local code which regulates reclamation similar to those passed by Cebu City and Davao City.