July 16, 2024

Plans of rehabilitating the Baguio public market is moving forward.
Last Wednesday, the P4 Selection Committee has recommended that Robinsons Land Corporation’s (RLC) original proponent status (OPS) be accepted.
RLC plans to construct two buildings – one will accommodate the vendors and the other structure will function as a mall. It intends to lease the facility for 50 years with an automatic contract renewal of 25 years.
P4 Committee Chair City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña was surprised at the turn of events.
In a press conference last Aug. 14, dela Peña said five members of the Committee voted in favor of RLC despite the company’s failure to complete documents requested by the P4 Committee.
He said the committee even wrote RLC to submit requirements, such as financial statements but it did not respond.
SM Prime, on the other hand, submitted complete documents but it still failed to convince the rest of the P4 members to vote in its favor.
Dela Peña is a non-voting member of the P4. He may only vote in case of a tie.
The P4 Committee will submit its recommendation to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, by Monday.
Dela Peña said the mayor may veto the committee’s recommendation if he sees that the selection process is irregular.
If this happens, the P4 Committee will wait for the submission of another OPS from other companies. SM Prime and RLC may participate again, he said.
Dela Peña said selection of the OPS does not translate to award of the contract. He said before a final deal is reached, terms may still be negotiated.
After the prequa-lification, the next step will be to draft a terms of reference and open RLC’s OPS to allow other companies to challenge its offer.
Baguio Market Vendors Association (BMVA) President Zosimo Abratique said his group has come up with plans to challenge RLC’s offer.
BMVA would have been the third entity to submit an OPS but it was disqualified for failing to submit documents to prove that it is a juridical entity.
As of Tuesday, the Cooperative Development Authority has not lifted the moratorium in the registration of federations, which now prevents the BMVA from participating in the Swiss Challenge, where they would match or even exceed the offer of the original proponent.
Abratique said selection of the OPS is only the first step. “We are happy that the people of Baguio share our aspirations to preserve the market as a public market. We do not welcome another mall.”
P4 Committee member Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda is one of the members who voted neither for RLC or SM Prime.
In her letter to the mayor, Tabanda said city officials were all made to believe that development of the market would cost P6 billion as estimated by the technical working group. It turns out that the development can be developed at a lesser cost as seen in the OPS of SM Prime and RLC, which only showed that each company will only spend an average of P3B for the development.
She added, construction of more malls in the city is not part of the development plan of the city. Tabanda said when the P4 Committee decided, it should have considered the carrying capacity of the market, the buying capacity of consumers, and the environmental, social, and cultural, impact of constructing another mall.
Tabanda also poiinted out that another mall will kill local businesses.
“Let us give local businesses and residents a chance,” she told the mayor.
Last week, the Baguio Heritage Foundation and concerned residents criticized the city government’s reception of companies that showed interest in developing the market. They said the market is a heritage area that should be preserved and not turned into a mall.
Technical working group member Councilor Mylen Yaranon said the new design of the market is modern, blends with the environment and included designs depicting Cordillera heritage. – Rimaliza A. Opiña