Pasay City council blinks, gives go signal for reclamation project


AFTER it recalled its resolution approving the P54.5 billion Manila bay reclamation project, the Pasay City council now gave its go-signal to the controversial project.

During the en banc session on Monday, the council voted 8-5 in favor of the resolution for the continuation of the reclamation project awarded to SM Land Incorporated through a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with the local government.

But Minority Floor Leader Arvin Tolentino warned that the City Council and the local government may have opened themselves to legal problems after passing the said resolution.

He stresses that the earlier resolution recalling the awarding of the project to SM Land Inc. was one way to protect the council and the executive from legal implications that other stakeholders may resort because of the alleged irregularities.

The new resolution was issued barely two weeks after the council unanimously approved Resolution 3059 recalling its previous rulings in connection with the project due to irregularities in the bidding process.

Tolentino, one of the city council members who objected the resolution, expressed fear that the city has opened its door for legal battle because of the new resolution.

“Doon na patungo ang usaping ito (This issue is leading towards legal battle,” Tolentino said when asked if the issue may reach the court.

He reminded his colleagues of the content of the letter sent to the Office of Mayor Antonino Calixto asking him to seek legal opinion from the Department of Justice or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in awarding reclamation projects.

In its letter toCalixto dated December 10, the PRA requested the local chief executive to secure a validating legal opinion from the DOJ and DILG in the light of opposition from the Pasay City Council.

During the session, Councilor Richard Advincula reminded the rest of the council that the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) may issue a cease and desist order once proven that there are irregularities in the bidding process of the project.

Advincula also asked the members of the council if the resolution is already a complete contract awarded to SM Land Inc. or they have only chosen SM Land as the proponent of the contract and still subject to the approval of the PRA.

“Two weeks pa lang since we recalled our resolution medyo kailangan pa ng panahon para pag-isipan maigi at hindi tayo magkakamali. Lagi natin inilalagay sa ating resolutions that ‘All rules and regulation should be complied with’.  Eh, There are rules and regulation na hindi na-comply,” he said.

The selection committee that was created has no legal existence because the supposed member of the committee was not informed of the meetings,” he added.

He also stressed that the resolution is a direct violation of Executive Order 146 that delegates the power of the President to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to approve reclamation projects in the country.

Majority Floor Leader Edgardo Advincula also aired his objections of the resolution specifically saying that he has not signed its inclusion in the agenda of the council hearing yesterday. RITCHIE A. HORARIO


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