Councilor slams Athletic Bowl rehab-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, August 12, 2012
A COUNCILOR recently slammed the proposed terms of reference (TOR) for the rehabilitation and development of the Baguio Athletic Bowl.
Councilor Edison Bilog called on the public to oppose what he alleged is a “done deal” in the P4.3 billion rehabilitation of the Athletic Bowl stressing existing laws explicitly state parks are beyond the commerce of man.
This as he castigated the proposed Athletic Bowl development terms of reference forwarded by Mayor Mauricio Domogan to the City Council. It contains details of the proposed development of Burnham Park with the construction of support facilities, rentable spaces, accommodation facilities where the alleged Filipino-Korean investors will recoup their investment.
In a copy of the TOR obtained by Sun.Star Baguio, the proposed development area of the project will involve some 77, 257-square meter portion of Burnham Park that includes the Old City Auditorium and Library which now serves as the city parking area, the entire Athletic Bowl, the adjoining tennis court, and the indoor swimming pool.
Bilog said such large developments like that of the Athletic Bowl must undergo a public consultation as prescribed by the Local Government Code.
He also questioned the proposed TOR as it does not include provisions on the social acceptability of the project.
The councilor also added the project might violate the existing Executive Order of President Benigno Aquino III on tree cutting as the portion offered for development also includes the pine-forested Pine Trees of the World Park at the back of the Athletic Bowl.
He shared sentiments of Bishop Carlito Cenzon whom he consulted prior to sharing the details of the project to the press as the development might pose danger to the P25 million steel fences constructed around the area recently funded by the Office of the President.
Bilog said the Athletic Bowl area would definitely not be the site for the proposed hotel as it is the site for the sports facilities. A multi-level pay parking building will rise on the old auditorium site.
This means the area that is prospected for development is the pine-forested area at the Pine Trees of the World Park, he said.
The local legislator said Bishop Cenzon told him he will oppose the development if the fences built around Burnham Park are compromised.
Another point raised by Bilog was that the mayor already divulged the amount for the development which is more or less P4.3 billion and the proposal of the Filipino-Korean developers without undergoing a public bidding.
“How could he say that there will be a P4.3 billion development? How would he know the contents of the proposal? It seems that it already a done deal and the terms of reference are only for formalities,” he said.
He stressed there should be an honest public bidding conducted prior to the development of the Athletic Bowl.
He also asked why the city, instead of just borrowing funds from banks for development of the project, is engaging in a 25-year Build-Operate and Transfer project renewable again for succeeding 25 years.
“The earnings from the development and the supposed return of investment of that developer could already be used as payment with the banks and the earnings would directly go to the city,” he said.
He also remained perplexed at the statements of the mayor last May claiming the Athletic Bowl will be turned over to the city and not owned by the developer.
This as in the submitted terms of reference all sports facilities, pay parking other support facilities will be turned over to the developer for management and operations.
“Our athletes will be disadvantaged. Baka mahirapan na silang gumamit ng sports facilities as it will already be managed and operated by the private developer,” he said.
He said the controversial project is just inviting officials to be charged with cases of graft and corruption.
In the terms of reference, the mayor detailed the present status of several decades old sports facility which is already below par as compared to other athletic venues in the country.
The mayor also claimed that there is a need to develop the area into a world-class athletic venue to promote sports, attract more tourists and investors as the Athletic Bowl facilities are already below par in terms of modern-equipped sports amenities, track oval, lack of lighting system, no roof for bleachers and limited space and the heated swimming pool where the heating pumps as of September 2, 2011 are already non-functional.
The first stage of the project will involve advertisement and submission of preliminary conceptual plans for the Athletic Bowl reconstruction which includes provision of a tartan track, oval stadium, 5000-seating capacity grandstand, surrounding fence, bunkers and dugouts, treatment unit, business and media rooms, lighting system among others.
The proposal from investors should also include reconstruction of the indoor swimming pool, tennis court, table tennis rooms, basketball court, indoor golf range, convention room and sports shops and restaurant.
All these in the required proposals and feasibility study will be reviewed by the Athletic Bowl Development Committee, the City Development Council, the City Council, Regional Development Council and finally for approval of the Investment Coordination Committee.
Only in the second stage of the project will the solicitation and awarding of bids will be conducted prior to project implementation.
The proposed terms of reference drew a close similarity to the controversial Athletic Bowl development proposed in 2010 by a Korean investor identified as An Ho Yul which drew the ire of the public resulting in the reversal of a unanimous decision of then the City Council approving a similar development.
When asked in his weekly presser, the mayor claimed he is not aware if the developer who offered the P4.3 billion unsolicited proposal for the Baguio Athletic Bowl development is one and the same developer as in 2010.
The councilor, meanwhile, called on the public to remain vigilant on the proposed Athletic Bowl development and to engage them in ensuring proper consultations and bidding are conducted so that government transactions with investors remain transparent.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 13, 2012.