Mabilog: “PPP contract is above board”
Here’s another case of frying taxpayers in their lard under the guise of public-private partnership or PPP, the byword coined by government in lieu of “privatization” that has become like “tuwid na landas” of the scion of Hacienda Luisidta, a notorious, fraudulent term.
Like other PPP deals, the one unfolding in Iloilo City practically leaves both city government and Malakanyang holding an empty bag, assured of a measly monthly share worth P16,000 for putting up its counterpart that runs to over P130 million.
The National Economic Development Authroity (NEDA) is still studying whether the PPP in Iloilo City, technically called, “Iloilo Guimaras Ferry Terminal” would benefit the government. However, the public furor it ignited has contaminated the city government prompting an embarrased city council to “withdraw” the authority they granted to Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to sign the PPP contract with Fernando Sia, controlling interest in Double Dragon Enterprise which also engages in construction.
Mabilog inked the deal on October 1,2012. However, after the May 2013 elections, Kgd. Plaridel Nava public confessed embarrassment admitting he and fellow city councilors were hoodwinked into signing the lopsided contract.
“It’s only now that we were given copies of the contract,” Nava recalls. “We had granted the authority in good faith and trust in the assurances of Mayor Mabilog and Sen. (Franklin) Drilon that the arrangment is good for Iloilo and its people.”
Mabilog disputes Nava. “The contract is above board and it is mutually beneficial to both the private and public partners,” he explains.
Iloilo City owns 1.8 hectares prime property where the old regional office of the Philippine Coast Guard had stood. After the elections of 2010, the Coast Guard relocated to Bo. Obrero, Lapuz, and the national government through Drilon’s lobby donated the property to the city government.
The venture purportedly entails P260 million in direct investment but Nava cautioned taxpayers it could be misleading. “We don’t know how much Double Dragon would put up; P135 million of that would be plunked in by government through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to construct the pier suited for vessels plying Iloilo and Guimaras Island-Province.
Here’s a hitch though: PPA has executed a waiver in favor of Double Dragon, that is, PPA graciously surrendered for a song its mandate to manage and control the port and the money-making activities in it like port fees, berthing fees, cargo handling and storage services.
On the 1.8-ha. land of Iloilo City, Double Dragon will erect a building that will accommodate a grocery market, department stores, office spaces and the passenger terminal, among others.
The city government has agreed to waive the lease for the use of its prime property and will only content itself to its share from the income of the passenger terminal computed at one perent of the net in the first five years. Each subsequent five years gives a percentile point increase until the city share reached the maximum share of five percent.
Management is lodged in Double Dragon and subsequently the accounting of proceeds and expenditures that, thus, entitles Double Dragon to play around with figures to ensure maximum gain ahead of its partner the city government.
Nava grumbled that the city will be getting only P16,000 monthly as share in the passenger terminal. “What about the restaurants, groceries, offices, coffeeshops and specialty stores within and outside the terminal? They also pay rents to Double Dragon, why is the city not entitled to get its due share from these businesses?”
The P16,000 monthly share is only P192,000 a year, which is only half of the yearly income of each of the 16 executive assistants of Mayor Mabilog.
The cargo handling, berthing and mooring fees of the pier at the proposed Iloilo-Guimaras Terminal could have meant additional income to both the PPA and the local government but both have handed on a silver platter that government facility to a private company who collects and enjoys the income from the pier operations.
For a song
Pardon this repetition: government invested hefty sums to construct the pier but the benefits thereof is exclusively vested on a private entity. The 1.8 hectare property is also handed over to Double Dragon which is de facto mandated to exercise absolute ownership of over it for the next 25 years. That’s a cute way of running a business, ain’t it?
Drilon, now Senate President, insists that the PPP contract is valid and binding, in effect, acting as de facto counsel for Double Dragon.
As a lawyer, a contract, even if signed by god almighty is “null and void” ab initio if it’s against the Constitution, law, publi policy, morals, good customs and tradition.
Contracts are also void when the contracting parties have no legal personality, like the ones signed by minors (under 18), mentally ill and adults who are special children, or those not authorized to enter into one.
At one point, Drilon, irked by the opposition, dared them to go to court.
Bwisit, that circuituos route again.