MEMBERS of the Pasay City Council uncovered “loopholes” in the procedures used in the selection of the winning developer for the controversial reclamation project as some of theme even threatened to withdraw their support.
The Pasay City Council chaired by Councilor Richard Advincula grilled lawyer Severo Madrona, City Legal Officer and Vice Chairman of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Selection Committee on the procedures they used for choosing the winning bidder.
Councilor Arvin Tolentino, however, noted that there was no representative from the Commission on Audit (COA) during meetings of the PPP Selection Committee, which is mandated under the law.
Besides, Tolentino said they were not informed by the city legal department on the issues being raised by some bidders such as the S&P Construction Technology & Development Co., Inc. and Ayala Land, inc.
“We were deprived by legal issues. We were not informed that there are challengers to the project,” he told Madrona.
Because of this, Tolentino threatened to withdraw his support to the project if he finds it erroneous.
Madrona said that the project was already approved and ratified by the city council.
But because of the legal issues raised by the ‘rejected’ bidders, the council decided to look again the project.
The project involves the reclamation and development of approximately 300 hectares of foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay located at the western part of the jurisdiction of the city.
SM Land, Inc. (SM) will undertake and fully finance the project and this includes all the costs of all the necessary permits and clearances from government agencies and the expenses to comply with all the government and legal requirements.
Ayala Land and S&P questioned the bidding rules applied by the PPP-SC to the Project.
During the pre-bid conference, the City Legal Officer informed those present that the rules to be followed was a combination of the 2008 NEDA JV Guidelines and the Agra Primer.
On the other hand, the terms of reference (TOR) for Competing Proposals makes reference to the Procurement Act.
But S&P maintained that under existing laws, it is only the Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law which can apply to the Project adding that “it is the only law which provides the procedure and rules to be followed in accepting and approving unsolicited proposals.”
“S&P expressed concern about these rules because the 2008 NEDA JV Guidelines specifically provides that it does not cover local government units. The Procurement Act is also not applicable because said law specifically provides that for public-private infrastructure or development projects, the BOT Law shall apply,” the S&P said.
For his part, Councilor Alan Panaligan said the council will scrutinize the project as there were legal ambiguities raised by other bidders.
“We are just cautious here because as we all know there were some issues raised against the project. We have to protect the integrity of the council,” Panaligan told in Filipino.
Madrona reiterated the city’s position that they followed the appropriate laws, rules, and regulations in connection with the unsolicited proposal of SM Land, Inc. that was subjected to “competitive or swiss challenge.”
RITCHIE A. HORARIO