May 29, 2024

The City Government of Baguio will finally be able to purchase the city property located at North Sanitary Camp following the confirmation of the memorandum of agreement between the city government and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) by the city council.
The property to be purchased, which consists of seven parcels of land with a total lot area of 6,332 square meters, is where the Baguio Sewage Treatment Plant (BSTP) is situated.
The acquisition of the land has been stalled by a long-standing case filed by the National Power Corporation (NPC) against the city government before the Regional Trial Court Branch 61 for the recovery of possession of real properties with damages including back rentals. The case docketed as Civil Case 6801 is pending in court.
 Earlier, the city council and the City Legal Office attempted to convince the NPC to move for the dismissal of the case, to no avail.
The city council also urged PSALM to delete a provision in the MOA that states the sale is without prejudice to the claim of the NPC for back rentals covering years prior to PSALM’s decision to sell the property, again, to no avail.
During the regular session last Jan. 16, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda objected to the provision of the MOA requiring the city council to pass a resolution stating the city government “has no more claims, causes of action, charges, assessments, and other collectibles from PSALM upon the execution of the deed of transfer and conveyance.”
Councilor Peter Fianza clarified these “claims” and “collectibles” include real property taxes collected by the city government over the property.
Tabanda asserted the continuous claim of NPC for back rentals from the city government suggests they had not dropped their claim for ownership over the property.
“If they own the property, why should they not be subjected to real property tax? It is not fair on the part of the city. I do not like the city to be at a disadvantage,” Tabanda said.
She clarified she is in favor of the purchasing the property but not the waiving of all claims and collectibles.
By virtue of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, PSALM Corporation was created to take ownership of all existing generation assets, liabilities and independent power producer contracts, real estate, and all other disposable assets of the NPC, among others, and to manage the sale, disposition, and privatization of said assets.
In pursuit of its mandate, PSALM intends to sell and transfer the said property “in an optimal and for the best interest of the government.”
During a council forum on March 28, 2022, Asst. City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes mentioned two court orders from the RTC stating the NPC would move for the dismissal of the case once the transfer of the property was finalized and submitted. The court orders were archived in February 2022. 
“Once we buy the property, the case should already be dismissed,” Rabanes said. – Jordan G. Habbiling