December 6, 2023

The city government of Baguio is still awaiting updates on its request to reclaim the Maharlika Livelihood Complex (MLC).

In 2022, the city government requested the Human Settlement and Development Corporation (HSDC) for the possible early turnover of the said facility prior to the expiration of its 50-year lease contract on April 27, 2025.

During the regular session of the Baguio City Council last June 19, Atty. Maan Elago who represented HSDC said the turnover of the Maharlika building should first go through the approval of the Government Commission for GOCCs (GCG).

Elago said the HSDC has yet to receive a reply from the GCG regarding the city’s request.

The turnover of the Maharlika Livelihood Complex to the city will serve as an added source of revenue to be used by the city for the implementation of its programs and projects.

The Maharlika building is located within the former site of the Baguio Stone Market which was razed by fire in 1970 and was demolished in the mid-1970s.

In 1972, the city government entered into an agreement with M.G. Suntay Company for the construction, operation, and management of a multi-story supermarket and complex shopping center which now stands as the Maharlika Livelihood Complex. The initial lease-agreement was for 25 years from the date of completion of the project.

A deed of assignment over the said project was executed by M.G. Suntay Tra-ding Company in favor of Mar-Bay and Company, Inc.

Through a council resolution passed in 1975, the lease period was extended to 50 years, commencing on April 28, 1975 and ending on April 27, 2025.

In 1980, Mar-Bay and Company, Inc. transferred the leasehold rights in favor of the HSDC, inclusive of all improvements introduced and constructed therein. Since then, the state-owned HSDC has been the administrator of the facility and even absorbed some of the employees of the MLC.

In 2009, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the DA to hand over the MLC to the city government since it does not have any agricultural-related function. However, the facility has remained under the HSDC to date.

The HSDC is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. In 2013, the recommendation for the abolition of several government-owned and controlled corporations which included the HSDC was approved by the Office of the President under a memorandum. However, the delay in the transfer of its management to a certain government agency (which until now is unknown), some of the HSDC employees were rehired to manage the operations of HSDC.

In its 2015 audit report, the Commission on Audit stated that the delay in the transfer of operations and management of the MLC to another government agency hindered the abolition of the HSDC and the transfer of its remaining assets and balances in the books of accounts to the DA. – Jordan G. Habbiling