By KHIM ABALOS
BAGUIO CITY — Tontongan ti Umili, an alliance of progressive organizations in the city, urged the public to oppose the reconstruction of the Baguio Public Market under private entities such as Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI).
In the official statement, dated February 21, they said the development of public facilities under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has more consequences than positive effects on Baguio residents.
“The current scheme which entrusts the development of public facilities to a public-private partnership (PPP) will only do more harm than good. While poor people will pay the price of privatization, the enormous cost of profit will go straight into the pockets of big businesses who are in a joint venture with the national and local government,” Tongtongan said.
RLC and SMPHI presented their proposals to the city officials, including Mayor Benjamin Magalong, last February 14, and February 17, respectively.
The mayor said the city’s Public-Private Partnership committee would evaluate the proposals from the two corporations subject to PPP rules.
According to the Public Information Office of Baguio City, the mayor intends to make the process faster without resorting to shortcuts in the established procedures to ensure that only the best offer will be selected as soon as possible.
Moreover, the city council approved the architectural design included in the redevelopment plan presented by the Technical Working Group (TWG)through Resolution No. 39-2020. Councilor Mylen Yaranon headed the TWG that crafted the plan.
Magalong revealed that four companies, including RLC and SMPHI, expressed their intention for the multi-billion project.
The design indicated the plan to build a seven-level structure that includes two underground floors for the vendors with provisions for parking spaces, a sewage treatment plant, materials recovery facility, and open space comprising 30% of the area for alleys and parks.
Meanwhile, TTU cited the 1995 people’s opposition against the redevelopment of the public market under Uniwide Sales Realty And Resources Corporation. The group said it was a “victory of the people of Baguio” against the corporate takeover of the city.
“The people of Baguio have once won a battle against corporate greed when it successfully defended the public market from Uniwide. We will not hesitate to do the same today,” Tongtongan said.#