THE Senate is now more eager in pursuing a decades-old plan to have a permanent office building and it is eyeing a property owned by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) inside Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate accounts committee, on Wednesday said the Senate has been mulling the idea of moving to a permanent site for more than 16 years.
“We have now the opportunity because the BCDA is there, the site is available, why don’t we just go for it? Right here, right now,” Lacson said in an interview after the committee hearing on the planned relocation of the Senate.
The BCDA, led by its president and CEO Vince Dizon, presented before members of the Lacson committee potential sites for a new Senate office building all located inside the Bonifacio Global City, the former military camp Fort Bonifacio, including the consular area near the American cemetery and the Navy Village.
Of the three proposed sites, Lacson finds the Navy Village property along Lawton Avenue as the most viable site for the new Senate office since there is no issue on ownership and that construction can start immediately.
The Navy Village was the subject of an earlier dispute as it was being claimed by
The Navy Officers’ Village Association Inc.
The Supreme Court (SC), however, ruled that the property belongs to the BCDA.
Lacson said the Senate would only be needing one-hectare for its new office building costing around P900 million based on the P90,000 per square meter estimate given by the BCDA.
He added that the chamber could use the P1 billion savings from 2016 to purchase the property and have senators earmarked some P100 million in the 2018 national budget for the construction of the building.
Lacson noted that since some senators submitted their proposed projects under the 2017 budget, they can do the same in the 2018 budget and earmark P100 million for the construction of the new office.
He said the Senate could save a lot of money in the long run if the plan pushed through it pays P150 million to P170 million a year in office rent.
The Senate is currently renting a portion of the building of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
“Hopefully this year, we can finish it so that we can start construction by 2018 and give or take two years by 2020 we can already move to the new Senate building,” Lacson said. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA