February 25, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The new law governing public-private partnerships will not revert to square one the transactions involving unsolicited project proposals in Baguio, but it will delay the ongoing transactions between the city government and the proponents.

Particularly, the planned redevelopment of the public market by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) will hit a snag because of the approval of Republic Act 11966 or the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code, which, among other things, reversed the process adopted by the city government concerning unsolicited project proposals.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said although the city government and SMPHI already signed the certification of successful negotiation, there will be a delay in the process because the committee that is transacting with the company no longer exists.

This is because the PPP Code repealed the city’s Public-Private Partnership for the People Initiative (P4) Ordinance, which also created the selection committee that has been transacting with SMPHI.

“We can no longer meet because the old committee, which I used to chair, no longer has a legal basis, therefore, no new transactions will commence,” dela Peña said.

He said a new committee is needed so that negotiations on the redevelopment of the public market will continue.

Dela Peña added the new committee will now be headed by the mayor.

City Legal Officer Althea Alberto earlier said the PPP Code will not stop the implementation of PPP projects in the city, but added the OPS awarded to proponents must be reconfirmed, endorsed to the local development council for verification and checking of the feasibility study, and submitted to the legislative council, in this case, the city council, for approval.

It also requires that before an OPS is granted, negotiations must first be done, but only after the city council has set the parameters, terms, and conditions (PTC) of the negotiation. The PTC should also be endorsed by the City Development Council and must be subject to a series of public consultations. 

To guide members on their actions on PPP projects in the city, the council has earlier agreed to invite representatives from the PPP Center to appear in one of their sessions.