Councilor opposes mall development for Baguio City Public Market
Shoppers and vendors in a public market in Baguio City observe standard health protocols on June 23,2020 amid the modified general community quarantine due to COVID-19.
The STAR/Andy G. Zapata Jr., file
Councilor opposes mall development for Baguio City Public Market
Artemio Dumlao ( - August 16, 2020 - 4:59pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Battelines have been drawn for the project to develp the Baguio City market.

This after the People Initiative Selection Committee (P4-SC) favored the offer of Robinsons Land Corp. over that of SM Prime Holdings Inc. for the city Public-Private Partnership project for the P5-B public market development and giving the former the Original Proponent Status (OPS).

The committee is set to forward its choice to Mayor Benjamin Magalong for confirmation as the final decision falls on the city chief executive, Baguio City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña said, adding, though that when the mayor confirms the decision of the P4, Robinson’s will not yet get the award as yet.

City Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, however, has opposed the award saying no mall giant should be in charge of developing what she describes as the “heart of the city.”

Tabanda said: “I was surprised with the choice of Robinsons. (It) did not submit additional documents kaya hindi fully evaluated ang proposal. Yet siya ang napili!”

In a letter to Dela Peña on August 13, a day after the P4 committee voted in favor of Robinsons, Councilor Tabanda said: "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."

"There is a pressing need to redevelop our Baguio City Public Market. But I am probinsyana. Baguio is my hometown. Baguio is my ‘ili.’ I strongly believe that I, together with all our kailians, will lose our identity, as we lose our Baguio City Public Market. I am voting not to grant the OPS to either SM or Robinson's," she said.   

SM has proposed a seven-storey building with a roof deck with four floors dedicated for the public market, while Robinsons plans a multi-level retail floor with basement parking and a separate mixed-use complex for IT-BPOs and a mall.

"In both proposals, the construction of the public market shall be at no cost to the city. This will save the city P1.29 billion as per the Robinsons proposal and P2.13 billion as per the SM proposal. At first glance, this looks like a financial bonanza for the city. But after thorough analysis, I am not in favor of any of the proposals," Tabanda said.

In the SM proposal, the two floors to house the public market will be part of the mall. "It will be more like the supermarket floor of the mall. As a Baguio resident, we are used to saying I will go to the market. Now we will be saying I will go to the mall."  

"What happened to our public market?  The fact that the floors will be managed by the city will not change, it's the character of the being part of the mall. We will no longer have a Baguio City Public Market, we will be closing the heart of the Baguio," Tabanda lamented.

In the Robinsons proposal, at least, there will be a Baguio City Public market. "But are we prepared to have a mall occupying the part of the market area? The area being requested for is not completely available.  Besides, Robinsons refused to submit additional documents, hence, the proposal was not completely evaluated."

Tabanda is also raising if the construction of more malls in the city is part of the comprehensive development plans, while asking to give locals a chance as the presence of malls will definitely affect local trade.

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