SPORTS HUB NOT IN ORIG­I­NAL PLAN OF MALAYSIA FIRM, SAYS BCDA CHIEF

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­lon Ramos @MRAMOSINQ

The con­struc­tion of the sports hub at New Clark City in Ca­pas, Tar­lac prov­ince, was not part of the orig­i­nal pro­posal sub­mit­ted by a Malaysian com­pany that bagged the gov­ern­ment con­tract, the top of­fi­cial of the Bases Con­ver­sion and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (BCDA) said on Mon­day.

In a press brief­ing, a vis­i­bly irate Viven­cio Di­zon, BCDA pres­i­dent and CEO, de­scribed as “very, very un­fair” news re­ports ques­tion­ing the le­gal­ity of the agency’s joint ven­ture agree­ment (JVA) with MTD Cap­i­tal Ber­had, which fi­nanced the pro­ject through a P9.5-bil­lion loan from the state-owned De­vel­op­ment Bank of the Philip­pines.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Inquirer and in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by a source fa­mil­iar with the deal showed that the BCDA may have cir­cum­vented the law on pub­lic bid­ding and gov­ern­ment cir­cu­lars on such part­ner­ships.

Con­trary to the re­ports, Di­zon said the Of­fice of the Gov­ern­ment Cor­po­rate Coun­sel (OGCC) did not ren­der an

ad­verse opin­ion when then OGCC head Ru­dolf Philip Ju­rado flagged the deal in a “con­tract re­view” he is­sued on Jan. 30, 2018.

Sep­a­rate opin­ion

Di­zon said this was af­firmed by a sep­a­rate opin­ion is­sued in Oc­to­ber 2018 by cur­rent OGCC chief El­pidio Vega, who de­clared that the agree­ment com­plied with all ex­ist­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions on such deals.

“The im­por­tant thing is that (the JVA) is le­gal, trans­par­ent and not dis­ad­van­ta­geous to the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

He said the con­tract was ad­van­ta­geous to the pub­lic be­cause “the gov­ern­ment will not pay a sin­gle cen­tavo to the de­vel­oper un­til the fa­cil­i­ties are com­pleted and ac­cepted [by the BCDA].”

It was the BCDA, “through the ad­vice” of Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB), that de­manded in early 2018 that MTD build the 20,000-seat New Clark City Ath­let­ics Sta­dium and the Aquatic Cen­ter for the coun­try’s host­ing of the 30th South­east Asian (SEA) Games, ac­cord­ing to Di­zon.

MTD, which also con­structed the Ath­letes’ Vil­lage, had orig­i­nally of­fered to build just the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tive Cen­ter (NGAC) on a 60hectare prop­erty of the BCDA in

Ca­pas town, Di­zon said.

The NGAC will host satel­lite of­fices of var­i­ous state agen­cies to serve as a “dis­as­ter risk and re­cov­ery cen­ter” and a “backup of­fice” in times of dis­as­ters or na­tional calami­ties.

Un­so­licited pro­posal

“The pro­po­nent sub­mit­ted its [un­so­licited pro­posal] without the sports fa­cil­i­ties to be built. It was the BCDA [that] said we need those fa­cil­i­ties … be­cause we will be host­ing the SEA Games and we need those fa­cil­i­ties posthaste,” Di­zon said.

He said the sports fa­cil­i­ties were built not just for the SEA Games but be­yond the bi­en­nial com­pe­ti­tion. “The fa­cil­i­ties are now be­ing used by our ath­letes who have been ne­glected decades,” he said.

No longer ap­pli­ca­ble

Di­zon also ac­knowl­edged that it was the BCDA that added stip­u­la­tions in the con­tract that gave MTD a re­turn on in­vest­ment of P2.49 bil­lion as “cost of money” if the BCDA would pay for the sports com­plex in five years and a 50-per­cent share from all rental fees for the fa­cil­i­ties in the next 25 years, ex­tend­able to an­other quar­ter of a cen­tury.

The 50-50 sharing was in re­sponse to Ju­rado’s com­ments and sug­ges­tions, he said.

He, how­ever, said the pay­ment for the cost of money and rental sharing would no longer ap­ply since the BCDA would pay for the sports hub as Congress had al­lo­cated P9.5 bil­lion for it in the P3.7-tril­lion na­tional bud­get for this year.

Di­zon main­tained that the BCDA did not pro­vide any loan guar­an­tee to MTD, say­ing the Malaysian firm bor­rowed money from DBP on com­mer­cial terms.

Vega, who also spoke at the news con­fer­ence, said the opin­ion he is­sued sup­ported Di­zon’s view that the en­tire con­tract was con­sis­tent with the law, ad­ding that his pre­de­ces­sor’s ear­lier mem­o­ran­dum did not pro­hibit the BCDA from en­ter­ing into a JVA.

“The first opin­ion al­ready gave a go-sig­nal for the BCDA to en­ter into such an agree­ment. It’s just that clar­i­fi­ca­tions had to be made in or­der for the same to be fi­nally ex­e­cuted,” he said.

‘Above­board’

“Af­ter sev­eral opin­ions, let­ters sent and dis­cus­sions with the BCDA, I hereby con­firm that the same is re­ally above­board and we found no le­gal im­ped­i­ment to its ex­e­cu­tion,” he said.

Di­zon and Vega, how­ever, were both re­fer­ring to the “con­tract re­view” ren­dered by Ju­rado as re­quested by the BCDA.

Un­der its owned guide­lines for JVA and two sep­a­rate cir­cu­lars is­sued by the Com­mis­sion on Au­dit and the Gov­er­nance Com­mis­sion for GOCCS, the BCDA was re­quired to

se­cure a “coun­sel’s opin­ion” and not a “con­tract re­view” be­fore sign­ing the deal with MTD.

Di­zon said he and other BCDA of­fi­cials also “be­lieved” that Ju­rado’s con­tract re­view was enough to pro­ceed with the pro­ject, which the bases con­ver­sion agency said was fin­ished by MTD ahead of sched­ule.

Asked why the BCDA needed an­other opin­ion from the OGCC if Ju­rado’s let­ter was al­ready suf­fi­cient, Vega said this would “con­firm the clar­i­fi­ca­tions made and that the agree­ment

Subject to bid­ding

Di­zon dis­missed al­le­ga­tions that the pro­ject did not un­dergo pub­lic bid­ding, point­ing out that the “Swiss chal­lenge” to the MTD’S pro­posal was one of the mode of pro­cure­ments al­lowed by law.

In his re­view of the agree­ment, Ju­rado noted that the con­struc­tion of the sports fa­cil­i­ties “falls squarely in the def­i­ni­tion of build-trans­fer.”

“[W]hile its con­struc­tion will be funded by [MTD], the cost thereof will be re­im­bursed in five an­nual in­stall­ments by the BCDA,” the lead gov­ern­ment cor­po­rate coun­sel pointed out. “As such, the sports fa­cil­ity seg­ment is, as a rule, subject to pub­lic bid­ding.”

De­fend­ing the ac­tions he and the oth­ers had taken, Di­zon said the part­ner­ship the BCDA en­tered into with MTD was a “busi­ness de­ci­sion” on the part of the agency since it needed to have the fa­cil­i­ties ready for the bi­en­nial sports event.

“We be­lieve, to­gether with our ad­vis­ers from the ADB, that JVA mode was the best mode given the fi­nan­cial, tech­ni­cal and le­gal con­sid­er­a­tions. [It] was the best, most prac­ti­cal and most trans­par­ent mode to do this pro­ject,” he said.

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