THE Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) has asked the city government of Pasay to explain the nature of the award that favored SM Land, Inc. in connection with the P54.5 billion reclamation project.
In a letter, PRA General Manager and CEO Peter Anthony Abaya asked Pasay city Mayor Antonino Calixto to secure a validating legal opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the light of opposition from the Pasay City Council.
The Pasay City Council had issued a resolution recalling the award to SM Land, Inc. of the reclamation project for the 300 hectares off-shore and in-shore parts of Manila Bay.
This also serves as the reply of the PRA to the letter earlier sent by Calixto and Pasay City Public-Private Partnership Selection Committee (PPP-SC) endorsing the Joint Venture Agreement of the local government and SM.
Abaya stressed that the PRA is not in a position to conduct a legal review of the Pasay City Council Resolution saying that this falls under the jurisdiction of either the DILG or the DOJ.
“This is precisely why this Authority is requesting the City to secure a validating legal opinion form the said agencies which have oversight functions over LGUs,” he added.
Abaya also said that the JVA cannot be referred to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) since it “does not have jurisdiction over LGUs as its mandate is to serve as legal counsel for Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs).”
Abaya cautioned the Pasay City Government in dragging them in what it called a “intra-LGU” issue following the PPP-SC’s statement that the Joint Venture Agreement was already reviewed by the PRA.
He also questioned the contradicting statements of Pasay City PPP-SC in connection with the true owner of the project.
He pointed out that the PPP-SC acknowledged the PRA as the owner of the project in their letter addressed to the authority.
However, Abaya added that in the JVA, it was stated that the city government is the project owner while SM Land is the project developer.
The agency also reminded the City Mayor that the PRA has already been following an approval protocol which requires their recommendation of all reclamation projects to the NEDA Board for approval as instructed by the NEDA Infrastructure Committee.
Earlier, Pasay City Council stood firmfirm with their resolution recalling three other resolutions in connection with the project.
Councilor Richard Advincula stressed that Resolution no. 3059 was approved and issued by the legislative body of the City and it can only be questioned in court.
Advincula clarified that they are questioning the selection process itself and not the proponent’s proposal.
“How can they select a winner without guidelines? Imposibleng naglabas sila ng desisyon nang hindi dumaraan sa tamang proseso. Importante ang guidelines in selecting the winner!,” said Advincula.
He even stressed that SM Land can be considered as a victim of the process because the problem stemmed from technicalities on selection.
“Wala sa kanila (SM) ang problema but in the selection process itself. But then again, they (SM) have their chance already when they submit their proposal. Actually biktima rin sila,” Advincula added.
He further said that they are avoiding judicial intervention because it will only prolong the implementation of the project.
Although they are not against the project that will eventually boost the city’s economy, Advincula said it is better to start the process all over again so that all flaws will be corrected.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO