Appellate court affirms Uniwide contract-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Saturday, January 19, 2013
THE Court of Appeals (CA) recently affirmed a 2008 decision of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Illuminada Cabatu declaring the validity of the contract signed by the city and Uniwide to develop the Baguio Public Market.
The appellate court’s seventh division Associate Justice Ramon Cruz dismissed last December 28 the appeal made by Hilltop Open Market Vendors Credit and Services Cooperative, Baguio Market Vendors Association and other independent vendors calling for the nullity of the RTC decision.
The case dates back in 1995 when City Ordinance 38, which seeks to rehabilitate the Baguio public market, was enacted.
The vendors appealed before the CA to declare invalid Ordinance 38-1995 and the nullity of the award of then Pre-Bids and Awards Committee for the development of the Baguio public market to Uniwide in 1995 for 30 years through a design-build-lease agreement.
“Then as now, the rule is that the factual findings of the trial courts are entitled to greater weight and accorded highest respect, especially when amply supported by testimonial and documentary evidence and will not be disturbed on appeal,” Associate Justice Cruz said.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan welcomed the decision of the CA claiming the city will meet up with Uniwide to ask on what will be the design and their plans for the public market.
But this, Domogan said, will be discussed after the elections as he stressed the project will surely be affected by the election ban on public works projects.
The mayor said if the project pushes through, there will probably be a phase-to-phase development of the public market ensuring areas such as Block 3 and Block 4 are the last to be rehabilitated since these areas have been organized and improved by the city only recently.
He also added the three-hectare wide Baguio public market has many areas needing improvement and also emphasized the city did not waste its money rehabilitating some sections of the public market, stressing it is a major economic driving force and a center of trade and commerce in the city.
The implementation of the contract between the city and Uniwide is at a standstill as reports have reached city officials that Uniwide is allegedly no longer capable of undertaking the development of the market.
But the mayor said this information will only be confirmed through a meeting between the city officials and representatives of Uniwide.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 19, 2013.