BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong vehemently denied allegations that corruption tainted the award of the P6-billion Baguio City Public Market development project, as he asked his detractors to stop the misinformation and deception.
Magalong was taking exception allegation that SM Prime Holdings Inc., the original proponent status (OPS) holder of the project, was given undue preference in bagging the multi-billion peso project because of corruption.
“My track record would speak for itself. Kung Mamasapano nga, hindi tayo nagpa-impluwensa, yang palengke pa. Kung sa Ninja Cops, di tayo nagpatinag, yan pa. (With the Mamasapano case, we didn’t allow ourselves to be influenced, what more for this market? Even with the ‘ninja cops’ controversy, we did not budge, what more this…)
Here in Baguio, we exercise genuine, truthful and authentic good governance. Bawal SOP at bawal under the table transactions dito,” said Magalong.
He insisted that the decision to grant SM Prime Holdings Inc. the project was done in compliance with the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) Ordinance which mandates that all proposals for P4 projects be evaluated objectively, and based on merit.
“SM’s offer was substantial, Robinsons’ was lacking. A righteous government would never settle for an inferior offer,” Magalong maintained.
He also underscored that the grant of the OPS to SM Prime Holdings did not mean that it had already bagged the project.
“It is just the start and not the end of the process. It simply paves the way for direct negotiations between the city and SM to get the project elevated to the next stage,” he explained.
The mayor added that there will still be negotiations, drafting of the terms of reference, and the undertaking of a process called Swiss challenge wherein Robinsons and any other interested parties, including the market vendors’ groups can still challenge SM Holding’s bid.
“I stand pat on the decision that the PPP policy guidelines of the P4 ordinance that green-lighted the market re-development project is the better option to take since it will be at no cost to the city. The public market will also remain a city property since it will be merely put on lease,” Magalong said.
Magalong said the market can now be fully re-developed without the city having to spend for its construction, something the government cannot do with its own finances given the pandemic.