January 29, 2023

Guts is all they have, but they will fight anyway even against some of the country’s biggest companies.
As a special committee is set to decide on which of the proposals submitted by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. or Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) will be used as basis in the formulation of the terms of reference for the Baguio public market’s development, a consortium of vendors associations declared on Monday they are ready to match the winning proponent’s offer, to ensure that the development plans they have in mind will be implemented.
The Baguio Market Vendors Association (BMVA), a conglomeration of vendors’ cooperatives was supposed to be the third party in the original proponent status (OPS) bidding process arranged by the Public-Private Partnership for the People Selection Committee (P4), but it was disqualified after failing to meet some requirements, which is for the group to be a duly-registered entity.
BMVA president Zosimo Abratique said the group is composed of individually-registered vendors associations and vendors cooperatives but at the time they were processing their registration with the Cooperative Development Authority, there were less than 10 associations within the BMVA. He said the CDA requires at least 10 associations to form a conglomeration.
He said the group tried to meet the requirements of the CDA but the pandemic, plus the CDA’s new policies on registration resulted in their failing to meet the deadline set by the P4 Committee in submitting their OPS.
BMVA is bent on challenging the offers of SM Prime and RLC for they remain apprehensive that the entry of big developers could displace them.
P4 member City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said the committee’s selection of the company that has the best offer does not mean the contract will be immediately awarded to them. He said vendors could still participate in the bidding through a process called “Swiss challenge,” where they would match or even exceed the offer of the original proponent.
The Build Operate Transfer Law allows acceptance of unsolicited proposals for projects which do not require direct government guarantee, subsidy, or equity.
The original proponent could also match the counter-proposal of the other parties.
Dela Peña said only when the P4 Committee has exhausted this process can they proceed with the next step in the public-private partnership deal which is to negotiate with the proponent.
He assured the vendors that all their concerns have been discussed by the committee and will be raised in the negotiating table if and when a developer is finally chosen.
“Ilalatag natin ang gusto niyo at gusto ng local government during the negotiation. If we come to an agreement then we craft a terms of reference,” dela Peña said.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon, head of the technical working group that redesigned the market development plan, also assured that in every step, the vendors will be consulted to avoid a repeat of the past when vendors’ associations sued the city government and which stalled the market’s development for more than 20 years.
Councilor Elaine Sembrano, former chair of the committee on market, asked the vendors to support, instead of opposing the market’s development. She suggested to the vendors to explore a joint venture deal so that they can have a “sense of ownership,” where their inputs on how the market will be developed or managed will be given weight.
SM Prime and RLC submitted their unsolicited proposals last February.
SM Prime intends to build a seven-story structure in which the first two floors will accommodate the current vendors at the public market.
There will be two basement parking and three levels in which the two floors will operate as a mall and the topmost floor will be an open or green space.
SM Prime plans to lease the public market for 50 years.
RLC, on the other hand, 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.
The design prepared by the TWG is for a seven-story structure including two underground floors to house the vendors with provisions for parking, sewage treatment plant, materials recovery facility, and open space comprising 30 percent of the area for alleys and parks. – Rimaliza A. Opiña