November 28, 2010 in Cordillera
By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — La Trinidad officials have yet to resolve their disagreements over a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the municipality and Jarco Realty and Development Corporation (Jarco) to construct a mall adjacent to the public market.
This came about after Mayor Gregorio Abalos called for a rescission of the said contract saying that there are some irregularities. He pointed out that based on the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) guidelines, an approval of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)-Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) is needed before the construction of the mall starts.
According to NEDA processes, the ICC evaluate specific major capital project with respect to their technical, financial, economic, social, environmental and institutional development feasibility/viability and from the context of sectoral plans and geographical strategies then recommends the projects to the NEDA board for confirmation.
During the session of the Sangguniang Bayan here on November 17, Councilor Jim Botiwey expressed his disappointment over Abalos’ pronouncements. He added that there is no law that mandates any local government unit (LGU) to obtain NEDA’s permission before entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with a private entity.
In his privilege speech, Botiwey said the mayor is ignoring the power of the Sanggunian. “He cannot usurp nor ignore the authority of the Sanggunian,” he said.
Botiwey said the mayor has no authority to ask for the rescission of the contract as it was duly approved by the Sanggunian through a resolution. He added that mayor’s action does not have any factual or legal basis.
Botiwey said, the MOA entered into by the municipality and Jarco is valid and enforceable. This according to him is based on the powers and authority of the Sanggunian to enact a resolution with regards to entering into a contract of lease of its property with a private entity. He added that the land leased is registered in the name of the municipality of La Trinidad. Thus he said, the land is owned by the municipality in it’s private capacity.
Botiwey fears that the continued refusal of the mayor to turn over the leased land could cause problems for the municipal government as they are signatory to the MOA. He further said that the mayor should make a formal document stating that if problems would arise, he (Abalos) will claim all the damages to save the LGU from paying it.
On the other hand, Abalos stands by his decision to rescind the said MOA. He already gave the municipal legal officer instructions to review the contract. He added that he is just doing what is right for the people of La Trinidad.
Former municipal officials lead by former Mayor Artemio Galwan signed a contact with Luciano Tan of Jarco in 2009. It was a BOT contract to build a three-storey multi-purpose mall at the 3,910 square meter lot beside the municipal public market. The said lot is currently used as pay parking area of Public Utility Vehicles (PUV’s) and vegetable truckers.
The said undertaking was earlier met with protests from transport sector represented by the Km. 5 Taxi Garage Operators and Drivers Association Inc., several stall owners, and residents of the municipality. Abalos was then the legal counsel of the protesters. They claimed that the municipal officials secretly signed the MOA as there was no public consultation conducted. # nordis.net