A member of the Pasay city’s Public-Private Partnership-Selection Committee (PPP-SC) pointed to alleged ‘irregularities’ in awarding the P54.5-billion Manila Bay reclamation project to SM Land Inc. and said that these should be corrected.
Councilor Allan Panaligan, chairman of the Committee on Land Use and member of the PPP-SC said that the ‘flaws’ in the process of awarding the project to SM Land was the main reason why they recalled the project.
The Pasay City council has unanimously approved an eight-page resolution withdrawing the award of the Manila Bay reclamation project to SM Land citing several flaws that need to be addressed by the city government.
Based on Resolution 3059, the city council recalled all resolution issued for the raw reclamation and horizontal development of 300 hectares off-shore and in-shore parts of Manila Bay.
During the session, council members unanimously suspended all house rules in adopting a resolution and instead approved the Committee Report on the said project, including the resolution attached to it.
Panaligan stressed that one of the flaws they noticed is his exclusion in the selection process made by the city’s PPP-SC since he is named as a member of the selection committee.
In the resolution, the council cited Section 37 of the Local Government Code stating the composition of the Bids and Awards Committee where one of the members is a councilor and that a representative of the Commission on Audit (COA) serves as an observer.
The council earlier found that no COA representative attended in any of the PPP-SC meetings for the selection of the winning bidder.
It also cited Executive Order 15 issued by city Mayor Antonio Calixto reorganizing the PPP-SC where Panaligan, as chair of the Sanggunian Committee on Land Use, Zoning and Patrimony is one of the members.
“We just want to make sure that there will be no grounds for the council or the executives to be charged in court because of the said flaws. [The recall] is a protection for the executive and for the city council,” said Panaligan.
He explained that they recalled the project in order to correct the defects raised by other stakeholders, including S&P Construction Technology and Development Co. and Ayala Land Inc. (ALI).
Some of the flaws raised by S&P and ALI, he added, are the alleged irregularities in awarding the project to SM Land without conducting an “open, public and competitive bidding” which encourages transparency, environmental issues and processes it followed.
“We are just being cautious with respect with S&P and Ayala Land. They raise issues which we find considerable to take this action,” he added.
The companies also contend that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) 2008 Joint Venture Guidelines requiring a 60-working day extension to submit counter-proposal was not followed. The said guideline was used in an earlier reclamation project in the city.
For its part, S&P welcomed the move of the Pasay City council to recall the initial award to SM Land describing it as a “concrete proof that the city government of Pasay wants a competitive, transparent, and open bidding in every city contract or project.”
“The company is thankful to the city council and to Mayor Antonino Calixto for taking remedial actions to correct the numerous flaws found in the selection/bidding process,” the company said in a statement.
It said the recall by the city council of the resolutions, which led to the award of the project is a necessary step to correct the flaws and errors committed and ensure wider participation in a transparent and competitive bidding process.
“With this development, we hope that Mayor Calixto and PPP Selection Committee would now consider implementing new procedures in the bidding process allowing other bidders and stakeholders to participate in order to determine the best and most advantageous offer for the government,” it added.
The Pasay City government and the Pasay PPP-SC, however, stood by its findings and actions in entering into the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with SM Land in the 300-hectare reclamation project.
“In so far as the city government is concerned, the JVA is already a perfected contract. It was entered into by the city government after complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and it was ratified by the city council. Thus, it’s a valid and binding agreement between the city government and SM Land Inc.,” said city legal officer Severon Madrona Jr., the vice chair of the PPP-SC.