3rd bridge project may face less ‘red tape’

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


THE local governments of Cebu Province, Cebu City and Cordova can pursue the construction of a third bridge between mainland Cebu and Mactan Island, as a joint venture with a private company, said the chief counsel of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said that Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) will simultaneously submit its unsolicited proposal today to the three local governments.

MPTC is a subsidiary of the holding company of business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan.

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Sitoy told Sun.Star Cebu that the PPP Center conducted a seminar in Cebu last week together with the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

During the seminar, Sitoy said, PPP Legal Chief Alberto Agra made it clear that a third bridge can be constructed without passing through the normal process.

Local Gov’t Code

Sitoy, a lawyer and former Provincial Board member, said Agra told them the legal basis are the town’s PPP ordinance and a joint venture agreement between the Cordova Municipal Government, Cebu City Government and MPTC.

The clarification came after Department of Public Works and Highways 7 Director Ador Canlas, Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon and Infrastructure Development Committee of the Regional Development Council Chairperson Emmanuel Rabacal said they were not aware of the project.

Joint venture agreements, Agra said, don’t need the approval of the RDC and Neda, citing a provision of the Local Government Code of 1991, or Republic Act 7160, and the PPP ordinance of the implementing local government unit (LGU).

“The power of (the) LGU (local government units) to enter into joint ventures is provided under Section 35 (Local Government Code) in relation to Section 17, 22 (a) (5), (c) and (d) thereof,” Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero said in a letter to Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto.

Legal

Section 35 states that an LGU may enter into joint ventures to develop local enterprises and to enhance the economic and social well-being of the people.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also said LGUs are free to prescribe the requirements, procedures and conditions for local joint ventures.

Since there is no law on joint ventures, de Lima said LGUs may enact their own PPP code or omnibus ordinance outlining, among others, all applicable modalities.

She added that through legislation, LGUs can allow unsolicited proposals in the selection of the private sector partner.

And even if there is no law on joint venture, Agra said, the Local Government Code allows it so guidelines and details of a joint venture agreement is provided by the LGU in the form of the PPP ordinance.

Under the PPP Code, there are two processes: bidding and or unsolicited proposals.

‘Swiss Challenge’

Once MPTC submits its formal offer to Cordova today, Sitoy said he will organize a PPP selection committee.

Agra said the committee will check if all required documents are complied with and the financial eligibility of the proponent. The committee will also determine if the town is need of the project.

The committee will submit its recommendation to Sitoy for approval and issuance of a certificate of acceptance.

Sitoy will then open the negotiation for a “Swiss Challenge,” or inviting other parties to submit a better proposal.

Once a better proposal is submitted, the original proponent has the right to amend his proposal to beat the new proposal.

So far, 28 LGUs nationwide have passed a PPP ordinance.

Cebu City’s role

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said Cebu City’s role in the proposed construction of the third bridge will be limited to endorsing the project for now.

He said, though, that he will welcome any participation in the future because a third link to Mactan Island will boost tourism in Cebu City.

In his press conference yesterday, he said it might be inevitable for the City to be a party in the undertaking since one end of the bridge will be at the city’s downtown area.

“For now, only our legislative intervention is needed, just to endorse the bridge project. Since a part of the structure is being constructed in Cebu City, the City Government will have to be part of it,” he said.

The mayor also said that he does not doubt that the construction of the bridge can start in January, since all stakeholders support the project and have been cooperative in every step of the project.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2014.

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