BAGUIO

Market development stalled

BAGUIO City lawmakers are backing the rejection of Robinsons Land Corporation from its Original Proponent Status (OPS) in developing the public market.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, who voted against development proposals from Robinsons and SM Prime Holdings Incorporated, said she is happy with the decision of the mayor.

Over the weekend, Mayor Benjamin Magalong formally rejected the Public-Private Partnership for the People Selection Committee (P4-SC) decision to award the OPS to Robinsons, bringing back work for the market to a standstill.

Councilor Mylen Yaranon supported the OPS rejection of Robinson, "but not to assigning another group of evaluators...it would lead to giving an OPS to the other company."

Yaranon said that under P4 rules, once an unsolicited proposal is rejected, this now opens for solicited proposals.

"Mayor should now direct the P4 Committee to move on and follow the P4 Code. If he is in doubt of the P4 Committee, he may consult the PPP Center on how to tackle this legally," Yarano added.

The chief executive underscored lapses committed during the selection process.

"While the noted deficiencies would have otherwise merited outright rejection of the unsolicited proposal, some voting members of the committee chose to set aside the evaluation and instead favored the said proposal," he said.

Magalong added a probe is underway.

"Selected department heads and distinguish consultants will conduct an objective evaluation of the unsolicited proposals based on merit, content, and substance," added Magalong.

Previously, Robinsons edged out SM in a bid to get first dibs for the market redevelopment.

Opposition sits firm with the public, including city legislators as Tabanda signified her objection to any mall giant to take the reins in developing what she describes as the "heart of the city."

"For years, the market has served as a vital part in the city. In fact, it has been called the heart of the city; it is part and has always been part of the lives of every resident. It is part of our heritage. It has a character of its own. A trip to Baguio is never complete without a visit to the Public market. But age is catching up with the market, it needs to be revitalized, it needs to be developed," she said.


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