Pasay says jv with SM legal, above board

Lawrence Agcaoili, Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Pasay City government reiterated yesterday that the joint venture agreement with SM Land Inc. of retail magnate Henry Sy for the 300-hectare Manila Bay reclamation project is valid and above board.

Severona Madrona, legal officer of the Pasay City government, said the agreement signed by Mayor Antonino Calixto and SM Land last Nov. 15 is valid and binding.

 â€œIn so far as the City Government is concerned, the joint venture agreement is already a perfected contract. It was entered into by the City Government after complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and it was ratified by the City Council,” he explained.

In a statement, the property development arm of mall and banking conglomerate SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) said it is pursuing the P54.5-billion project despite mixed signals from its host local government.

Competitor firms that previously expressed intention to join the auction remain interested in the reclamation and land development project, officials said yesterday.

“We stand firm with our commitment to undertake and complete the 300-hectare reclamation project as stipulated in our joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Pasay City Government notwithstanding the reported recall made by the Pasay City Council of resolutions it earlier issued supporting and approving SM Land’s proposals,” said SM Land senior vice-president Dave L. Rafael.

“We have a perfected and legally binding contract which was duly ratified by the City Council,” Rafael said, adding that the city council cannot just unilaterally cancel the deal without due process.

Madrona, vice chairman of Pasay City’s public private partnership – selection committee (PPP-SC), reiterated that Resolution 3059 adopted by the Pasay City Council last Wednesday violates due process as well as the constitutional rights of SM Land.

The resolution adopted last Wednesday recalled the pertinent resolutions issued on the raw reclamation and horizontal development of 300 hectares off-shore and in-shore parts of Manila Bay.

 â€œThe recall is procedurally infirm. It was hastily conducted without due regard to the rights of those concerned nor for the legal and moral implications of such an action,” the lawyer said.

 According to Madrona, the joint venture agreement signed by the city government and SM Land would still be subject to review by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“The City Council should've allowed the process to take its course,” he said.

Property giant Ayala Land Inc. as well as S&P Construction Technology and Development Co. have opposed the procedure particularly the Nov. 4 deadline for the submission of counter proposals in which the Pasay City government picked its joint venture partner for the project.

S&P Construction said the decision of the Pasay City Council to recall all resolutions pertaining to the Manila Bay reclamation project is a necessary step to correct the flaws and errors committed and at the same time ensure wider participation in a transparent and competitive bidding process.

Pasay City councilor Allan Panaligan said the council recalled the earlier approved resolutions to correct the defects raised by Ayala Land as well as S&P Construction.

Panaligan, who chairs the council’s committee on land use, said the council is just being cautious with respect with S&P Construction and Ayala Land as the issues they raised about the award of the project to SM Land. — With Louella Desiderio, Perseus Echiminada

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