Baguio council votes for market private-public partnership

A PRIVATE-public partnership (PPP) was deemed the best option for Baguio City to develop the public market.

The City Council on Monday night, July 13, 2020, voted on what modality the City will embark on regarding the market development after being presented options, as well as unsolicited proposals from mall giants.

Among those options include development via a loan, equity and the PPP option, which eventually won over the majority of legislators.

Councilors Joel Alangsab, Benny Bomogao, Micheal Lawana, Levy Llyod Orcales, Fred Bagbagen, Francisco Roberto Pacoy Ortega VI and Leah Farinas voted in favor of a PPP deal, comprising the majority of seven.

Ortega and Farinas, who both formerly voted to go for social equity, flipped their votes at the last minute, enabling the PPP option to dominate.

Voting in favor of a government-funded program through social equity were Councilors Popo Cosalan, Valdimir Cayabas, Arthur Allad -iw and Mylen Yaranon while Councilor Philan Weygan Allan voted for a loan.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda abstained while Councilor Elaine Sembrano chose to step out of the session when the voting commenced.

Attempts to sway the council to further study other options were overpowered by the desire of the majority to decide on what mode of development should happen to the market area. This will then start the process of awarding the Original Proponent Status (OPS) to either SM Prime Holdings or Robinsons Corporation.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan urged the City Council to put the decision to rest and decide on a modality before the voting started.

How the market will look

While the PPP decision won, the council voted to adopt the architectural plans made by the City’s Technical Working Group (TWG) for the development of the public market in Ordinance no. 38-2020, which will mandate developers to follow the plans made and approved previously by stakeholders.

All plans by proponents will also have to go through the City Council.

Previously, Yaranon, chair of the committee on public works, led the gathering of stakeholders to create the master development plan of the market for its modernization, which includes structures, zoning and guidelines for the upkeep and maintenance of the space.

The plan also cites relocation of areas approved by stakeholders after a series of meetings among city officials.

The plans were geared to better manage sanitation as well as moving the fruits and vegetable sections to more strategic areas.

During the height of the debate, Yaranon stressed the TWG plans were products of collaboration.

“This went through public consultation. Will we throw this to the garbage? Will all inputs now be disregarded?” questioned Yaranon.

In the TWG market development plan, an area for loading and unloading of passengers for jeepneys was created to lessen traffic towards Harrison Road. Space for senior citizens and market-goers to sit and rest was also allotted that will double as an area to accommodate the night market.

Lawana backed plans made by the TWG and said it should be adopted by the now-approved PPP modality deal.

Robinsons vs SM

SM and Robinsons both have a 50-year lease plan for the public market.

Costing P5.4 billion, SM will build a seven-story Cordilleran-inspired building with the first two floors dedicated to local vendors and the three top floors be allotted for the mall component of the project. Two-level parking capable of accommodating at least 1,900 vehicles will also be constructed.

It will take SM two and a half years to build the project.

Robinsons, meanwhile, will build two buildings: one for the use of the local market stakeholders and the other for the mall component of the project. The P6.148-billion plan will take four years to build.

Robinsons has yet to indicate how many floors they intend to build.

Both proposals will also allot green spaces atop the buildings for gatherings designed as a multi-use site for the city.

What happens now?

Weeks ago, City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña explained all proposals were at the start of the year and verified by the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) selection committee looking into legal and institutional matters including technical, financial and socio-economic facets of the deals.

The city administrator said selecting the original proponent status will be announced on who among the two will be chosen. He emphasized this is not yet the awarding of the project but giving back the project to the proponent to advance into the next stages.

Dela Peña said there are 19 stages before the project is awarded, subdivided into four main stages.

The City P4 committee has so far received, evaluated, and is about to award the OPS. It will now move to the negotiation stage.

Dela Peña added during this stage, the city can identify what details it wants and if negotiations push through, the terms of reference will be made and can be challenged by different entities.

The city administrator said the unsolicited proposals given by the mall giants prioritize the interest of over 3,000 legitimate vendors in the city market.

Dela Peña assured zero to a minimal competition of vendors and mall stalls, giving sellers the spotlight to sell local goods.

A transfer area will also be constructed for vendors while the project is being constructed.

The new market can accommodate 5,396 vendors and can generate P46 million annual revenue in its first year of operation and the potential to increase to P500 million in its fifth year.

Rental to the city by both mall giants will be offset or represented by the development they will make to the market.

Today, the market generates P20 million a year for the city.


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