February 9, 2023

It’s SM Prime Holdings, after all.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong has overturned the decision of the committee that recommended the award of an original proponent status (OPS) to Robinsons Land Corp. in relation to the modernization of the city public market.

In a memorandum issued on Oct. 14, Magalong has rejected the unsolicited proposal of RLC to develop the public market, citing the proponent’s failure to submit the required documents needed by his office in determining if the proposal “provides the greater advantage and benefits to the community and revenues to the city.”

Instead, Magalong has accepted the unsolicited proposal of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. for its conformity to the requirements and for being advantageous.

RLC and SMPHI have submitted their unsolicited proposals for the rehabilitation of the public market under a “lease” modality, pursuant to the Public Private Partnership for the People Initiative (P4) Ordinance of Baguio.

In August, the P4 Selection Committee, the body that evaluated the proposals of both proponents, has recommended for the mayor to accept the proposal of RLC and for the firm to be awarded the OPS for the lease and modernization of the public market.

Magalong, however, said the P4 Selection Committee did not only err in declaring that the proposal of RLC is complete but also in determining that its proposal provides greater advantage and benefits to the city.

Robinsons was asked to submit its floor and evaluation plans, but failed to do so, reportedly saying it will submit the documents once it is awarded the OPS.

“The floor plans and evaluation plans are vital in quantifying the advantage and benefits to be derived from the proposal. Without the documents, there is no baseline to be used as basis for a realistic estimation for the determination of the greater advantage and benefits to the community and revenues to the city. The proposed project affects the people of the city and as much as possible, the estimation should be based on ascertainable documents and cannot be left to mere presumptions,” Magalong stated in his memo.

Aside from the lacking documents of RLC, Magalong said SMPHI’s proposal is more advantageous based on various considerations.

In terms of the lot areas to be developed, RLC’s proposal to develop 42,022 square meters is beyond the area of the public market. The proposal does not also cover the development of the Hangar Market and based on the site development plan, RLC’s lot area for mixed-use complex will cover a large portion of the Malcolm Square.

SMPHI has proposed to develop 30,408 square meters of the public market. It also intends to put up a five-story structure while RLC plans to build two structures.

Magalong also said the proposal of RLC to lease the public market for 50 years with an automatic renewal of 25 years is way too long and almost perpetual. SMPHI’s lease proposal is for 50 years.

SMPHI proposed to complete the project in 2.5 years while Robinsons proposal is four years.

In terms of technical designs, Magalong said SMPHI has provided in its proposal substantial details while RLC’s design lack details for thorough evaluation. This is the same for the economic benefits in which SMPHI  is said to have provided detailed estimates compared with RLC that failed to provide substantial data as basis for evaluation.

The mayor also took note of SMPHI’s environmental consideration in its building design. “SM Prime provides a building design featuring environment-friendly facilities such as water treatment plant, and well-designed materials recovery facility, and a green sky garden.”

Magalong has ordered the issuance of certificate of non-acceptance to RLC and a certificate of acceptance to SMPHI and directed the P4 Selection Committee to notify the latter about the start of detailed negotiations.

Even after the award of OPS to SMPHI, the city will still subject the market development to a Swiss challenge, in which qualified bidders can match the proposals of the OPS holder. – Jane B. Cadalig