May 29, 2024

Baguio mayor speaks on market development issues

I take exception to allegations that money exchanged hands to make SM Prime Holdings Inc. the original proponent status (OPS) holder for the city’s market development project.
My track record would speak for itself. Kung Mamasapano (clash) nga, hindi tayo nagpa-impluwensa, ‘yang palengke pa. Kung sa “ninja cops” ‘di tayo nagpatinag, ‘yan pa. Dito sa Baguio, we exercise genuine, truthful and authentic good governance. Bawal SOP at bawal ang under the table transactions dito.
I repeat, the decision to grant SMPHI the OPS was done in the name of fairness and in compliance with the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) Ordinance which mandates that proposals be evaluated objectively and based on merit. SMPHI’s offer was substantial, Robinsons Land Corp.’s was lacking. A righteous government would never settle for an inferior offer.
May I also reiterate that the grant of OPS does not mean that it is a done deal for SMPHI. It is just the start and not the end of the process. It simply paves the way for direct negotiations between the city and SMPHI to get the project elevated to the next stage.
There will be negotiations, drafting of the terms of reference, and the process called Swiss challenge where Robinsons and any other interested parties including the market vendors’ groups can participate to challenge SMPHI if and when its negotiations with the city succeeds.
I stand pat on the decision that the PPP policy guidelines of the P4 Ordinance that green-lighted the market re-development project is the better option to take since it will be at no cost to the city. The public market will also remain a city property since it will be merely put on lease.
The market can now be fully redeveloped without the city having to spend for its construction, something the government cannot do on its own finances at this or any prospective time given the pandemic.
When the negotiation proceeds, rest assured that it will be our uncompromising position that the market stallholders are allotted the first two floors of the facility, are properly relocated during the building period, and will occupy stalls at reasonably agreed upon rates.
For many years, residents have been clamoring for a better public market in these modern times. The time has come to restore order in the area, especially in the illegal but tolerated sub-lease arrangements for stalls that are common knowledge. Corruption has become commonplace in the market for far too long.
We have learned recently that market stalls rented by the city to stallholders are a mere P800 to P8,000 a month but these are in turn sub-leased to as much as P80,000 a month. Enough is enough.
Getting the market redevelopment project off the ground is definitely a step in the right direction. Too much misinformation is being peddled to bring the project back to what it is – a decrepit, disorderly, and depressing sight amid the ambiance of a resurging Baguio.
I just pray that the public will remain discerning and not easily swayed by baseless allegations.
I promise to pursue this market project beyond politics and without a wisp of corruption.
I promised you a righteous government and I am going to deliver that at the end of my term. — MAYOR BENJAMIN B. MAGALONG, Baguio City