Pasay makes turnaround on reclamation project

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AFTER it recalled its resolution approving the P54.5-billion Manila Bay reclamation project proposed by SM Land Inc., Pasay City suddenly made a turnaround.

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During the en banc session on Monday, the Pasay City Council voted 8-5 in favor of a resolution for the continuation of the reclamation project awarded to SM Land through a joint venture agreement with the local government.

But Pasay City Minority Floor Leader Arvin Tolentino warned that the city council and the local government may have opened themselves to legal problems.

He stressed that the earlier resolution recalling the awarding of the project to SM Land was one way to protect the council and the executive of Pasay City from the legal moves that other stakeholders may resort to, because of 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 alleged irregularities in the bidding process.

Tolentino, one of the city council members who objected the resolution, expressed fear that the city has opened its doors to a legal battle.

“Doon na patungo ang usaping ito [This issue is leading toward a legal battle],” Tolentino said when asked if the matter may reach the courts.

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

In a letter to Calixto dated December 10, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) requested the local chief executive to secure a validating legal opinion for the project from the DOJ and DILG in light of opposition from the Pasay City Council.

During the session, Pasay City Councilor Richard Advincula reminded the rest of the council that the PRA may issue a cease and desist order once proven that there were irregularities in the bidding process for the project.

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

Advincula 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 to approve reclamation projects in the country.

Besides SM Land, property giant Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) expressed interest in bidding for the Pasay City reclamation project, and asked the local government for more time to prepare its counterproposal. However, the Pasay City government did not approve ALI’s request for a 60-day extension to prepare its counterproposal.

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