Bacolod Mayor EvelioLeonardia signed the memorandum of agreement between Bacolod City and the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp.for the operation of the city port by the latter for another 25 years Monday.
The MOA will thenbe sent to the Sangguniang Panlunsgod for ratification, he said yesterday.
Leonardia said the letter of BREDCO requesting for an extension to operate the port was dated October 4, and he issued an executive order creating a Technical Working Group on October 10. So he believes it is a reasonable and appropriate time to handle this matter.
This is a very logical, practical and reasonable period of time, he said in reaction to the claims of AbangLingkodPartylist Rep. Stephen Paduano that he considers the renewal of the Comprehensive Revised Reclamation Agreement a total sellout.
Paduano is asking why majority of the City Council members appear to be in a hurry to approve the request of BREDCO for the extension of its contract, which will be expiring in 2020 yet, and for an annual compensation of P6 million.
Leonardia, however, said “I do not know what is his comprehension of the matter. But I see things the way I see it. And this is a matter where we have to see the bigger picture. This is no place for being parochial or being myopic.”
“We have to look at this from the view point where we're talking of the total development of Bacolod,” he added.
The BREDCO project has changed the complexion of Bacolod, he added.
Leonardia said the concept of the contract between the city and BREDCO is for the latter to do the reclamation, plus the construction of the port at totally no cost to the city.
In that sense, therefore, the contract is imbued with that sense of understanding because that is the contribution of BREDCO, the city is also supposed to consider that, he said.
It is a 50-year contract as far as the port operation is concerned, because it is so clearly stated there that the option belongs to BREDCO. Meaning, that is legal. That was agreed upon, and therefore, that is binding, he said.
On the claims that there was a P17 million proposition between BREDCO and the city, Leonardia said they are, in fact, trying to locate copies of that if there ever was one. The city can even demand more than P6 million. But the bottom line is it has to be an amount that both parties will agree on, he said.
The original proposal of BREDCO was only P3.8 million.
Leonardia said if there was really a P17 million proposal, there was no agreement, and more than that, the matter led to the takeover ordinance, which was questioned in court.
“And we know that in the end, the city lost and BREDCO won. That even happened during the time when it was not the mayor. Since it was not appealed, the judgment became final and executory,” he said.
Leonardia said the position of the city to takeover and to increase the rates did not materialize especially now that there is a court decision already, so they are bound to that.
“According to the councilors, if we continue to make this a legal matter and continue to fight over this, it would mean that in the meantime, the city will continue to receive P800,000 from BREDCO. It is therefore a good thing that the TWG has discovered that if we follow the provision of the 1994 CRRA, the adjustment is only in so far as the rate of the compensation is concerned,” he said.
Leonardia said there is no such thing as premature renewal because it is not renewal that is being discussed. That only shows how well they understand the concept of the whole transaction.
Businessman Vladimir Gonzalez had also proposed to pay a higher compensation. But Leonardia said that is not legally possible because, according to the contract, the city is hooked for 50 years.
So if they want to propose that, they have to deal also with BREDCO. But everything should go through the legal process. As of the moment, they have an existing, valid and enforceable contract, he said, adding that as much as possible,they would like to avoid litigation.
If BREDCO has very big plans, it is a wise business decision to plan ahead and not wait for the last minute to act, Leonardia said.
“If they plan to pour in millions or billions in projects like making the port or terminal world-class, why do we have to wait?”he asked.*CGS
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