December 4, 2022

City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is confident that despite concerns raised on the development of the Baguio City public market, the public will see the benefits of the project.

Saying that SM Prime Holdings, holder of the original proponent status (OPS) for the market development, has agreed to make the undertaking a legacy project for Baguio, Magalong is hopeful the aversion towards the effort to improve the city market will be lessened.

He said SM representatives implemented adjustments in the design, among other things, for the benefit of the public, specially the vendors who will be affected by the project.

The ongoing talks between the city government, through the P4 Committee, bars both parties from discussing details of the negotiations.   

Magalong also clarified the Public-Private Partnership Center, which earlier issued that his decision to award the OPS to SM Prime deviated from the PPP Ordinance, did not prevent the city from negotiating with SM Prime.

“PPP (Executive Director) Fernando Pescon clearly said they are not stopping the city’s negotiation with SM,” Magalong said, adding he made his conversation with Pescon known to the city council.

He said the four councilors who earlier inhibited from the P4 Committee have rejoined the group.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña earlier said the absence of four members of the P4 Committee affects the quorum during meetings when the group needs to vote on crucial matters regarding the ongoing negotiations.

Magalong said he is banking on the commitment of SM Prime, after a series of meetings, to make the market rehabilitation its legacy project for Baguio as a form of giving back to the city’s people.

He reiterated he will not allow the city to be on the losing end in the public market development.

“If I feel that it is disadvantageous for the government, despite that fact na natapos ‘yung negotiations, nakita natin ang plano, and even if the terms of reference is crafted, I will not proceed with the project. That is my commitment to the people of Baguio,” Magalong said.

Dela Peña, in earlier interviews, said they are still in the initial stage of negotiations, which consist of 18 technical and 16 financial terms.

The terms of reference for the Swiss challenge will only be crafted if SM Prime and the city government agreed on all the terms of the negotiation.

The Swiss challenge would allow parties interested to develop the public market to participate and match the offers of SM Prime. – Jane B. Cadalig