Issue of September 13, 2020
Mt. Province
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Mayor junks report on city market dev’t
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has rejected the recommendation of the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) Initiative selection committee recommending the issuance of original proponent status (OPS) to Robinsons Land Corp. for the multi-billion development project for the city public market.

In a statement issued Friday, the mayor said he is probing into the reasons why the members of the committee favored a proposal despite its clearly noted critical deficiencies.

“While the noted deficiencies would have otherwise merited outright rejection of the unsolicited proposal, some voting members of the committee chose to set aside the evaluation and instead favored the said proposal. Nonetheless, I am probing into possible reasons as to why this episode even happened. I would like to assure our constituents that I am after what is right, what is fair, what is just,” Magalong said.

He said he and selected heads and consultants will conduct an objective evaluation of the unsolicited proposals based on merit, content, and substance.

In an interview over Bombo Radyo Baguio Thursday morning, Magalong has announced the possible creation of a technical committee that would be tasked to objectively review all documents concerning the market development project.

He said there seems to be an issue on the appreciation by some members of the committee on the documents submitted by proponents considering that RLC did not submit the complete documents, unlike the other proponent with complete requirements.

The mayor said his decision was reached after emphasizing to the committee that the city government must be transparent, objective, and must not entertain any “under-the-table negotiations” especially on projects to be covered by the P4 system.

He added the city must fix the P4 system to ensure its integrity and credibility considering the city government has other mega projects to be covered by the same scheme. “We need to establish our credibility,” he said. 

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña, P4 chair, on Thursday said the mayor was not satisfied with the result of the voting on the grounds that the proponent voted to be given the OPS did not submit additional documents needed to have a better review of the unsolicited proposals.

“The mayor appreciated how we summarized all the information pertaining to the proposals and the deliberations up to the voting. We gave him a substantial review and summary. However, he was not happy at the end,” dela Peña said.

The P4 earlier sent a memorandum to the mayor transmitting all the proposals, supporting documents, subcommittee reports, and the minutes of the proceedings during the OPS grant voting. A comparative/executive summary was subsequently prepared and submitted upon the mayor’s request.

Robinsons, and the other proponent, SM Prime Holdings Inc., were able to satisfy the initial requirements of the P4. When summoned, SM complied with the submission of additional documents while Robinsons representatives said they will submit it during the negotiation stage once granted the OPS.

When the votes on who will be issued the OPS were casted on Aug. 12, five voted in favor of Robinsons, two for SM, and two rejected both. The voting was done through secret ballot. How the members voted is confidential. 

Dela Peña said with the mayor’s decision, they expect the matter to be returned to the P4 selection committee, which may consider other modalities, such as competitive/normal bidding process or through solicited proposals, wherein the city government may draft its terms of reference. He said this means the bidding will be open again and everybody, including the two earlier proponents, is welcome to participate.

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