June 17, 2024

There is a question posed by Councilor Mylen Yaranon on the act of Mayor Benjamin Magalong in granting to SM an original proposal status (OPS) to redevelop the public market of Baguio. The good councilor asserts that the procedure in granting SM the OPS by the mayor did not comply with the law which states that it is only the Public Private Partnership for the People-Selection Committee (P4-SC) which can recommend to the mayor who should be granted an OPS. As the facts would appear, the mayor granted to SM the OPS upon the recommendation of an ad hoc committee, which the good mayor himself created.
A review of the events would show that last year, Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) presented to the P4-SC an unsolicited proposal to redevelop the public market. About a week later, SM also submitted its unsolicited proposal. The proposals were submitted to the P4-SC for evaluation.
Thereafter, the committee recommended to the Office of the Mayor to grant the OPS to RLC. The mayor then created an ad hoc committee to evaluate not only the proposal of RLC but also that of SM. The evaluation and recommendation of the ad hoc committee was then the basis for Magalong not only to reject Robinson’s proposal but also to accept SM’s proposal.
It is the position of Yaranon that under the law, the mayor is only empowered to either accept or reject the recommendation of the P4-SC.
The mayor cannot make his own recommendation and then approve it. It is only the P4-SC not an ad hoc committee that can recommend to the mayor.
Upon Yaranon’s initiative, the city council sought the opinion of the Public-Private Partnership Center on the issue. USec. Ferdinand
Pecson, PPP Center executive director, replied to the city council stating that only the P4-SC could make a recommendation to the mayor as to which entity should be granted the OPS and not an ad hoc committee created by the mayor.
He further wrote that while the use of an ad hoc committee to evaluate the recommendation of the P4-SC is a prerogative of the mayor, under the law, it is only P4-SC that is vested with the authority to evaluate unsolicited proposals and to make a recommendation for the acceptance of the proposal to the mayor.
There was only one recommendation that the P4-SC submitted to Mayor Benjie and that is the recommendation to accept the proposal of RLC. While the P4-SC did vote on who between Robinsons or SM should be given the OPS, its memorandum did not contain a comparison of the advantage and benefits of the two proposals, which could have given the mayor the authority to accept the unsolicited proposal that is complete and provided the greater advantage and benefit to the community and revenues to the city. It is only then that the mayor could create an ad hoc committee to guide him in his decision, but not when there is no such recommendation or comparison of the advantage and benefits of the two proposals coming from the P4-SC, which has the vested right to do so under the law.
Unless this issue raised by Yaranon is not satisfactorily resolved, the ongoing “negotiations” between SM and the city, may go nowhere and a waste of time and resources. As the saying goes, “haste makes waste.”

Not so long ago we read news of a raid on gambling dens in the city. We were surprised because we had been told that under the new administration, gambling operations stopped, especially with this present Covid-19 pandemic.
We will not be surprised then that jueteng operations have not actually ceased. Ask your barber and they will agree.
In 2013, I watched the movie “Runner Runner” which was about gambling. The movie started with a premise that “everyone gambles.”
They may call it something like “stock market” or “real estate,” but make no mistake, if you’re risking something, you’re gambling.”
So gambling is here to stay. You wanna bet? (DEL CLARAVALL)