Military jumps in BCDA-SM row over Boni South

Posted at 02/22/2013 1:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Defense department and the military have jumped in the row between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and SM Land Inc. over the 33.1-hectare Bonifacio South Pointe property. 

The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have filed before the Supreme Court an intervention on the BCDA-SM Land case that halted the bidding of the Bonifacio South property. 

In an 11-page Comment in Intervention, the DND and AFP said their intervention in the case is due to "national security". The funds from any disposition of military camps, such as the Bonifacio property, in Metro Manila go to the AFP Modernization Program. 

"The AFP as a direct beneficiary of the disposition of the Metro Manila  Camps undertaken by the  BCDA, will be heavily injured by the petition to prevent BCDA from exercising it’s duty to dispose the Metro Manila Camps," the intervention stated.

SM Land last month won a temporary restraining order against the sale of the Boni South property. 

Earlier, BCDA president and CEO Arnel D. Casanova said the TRO would deprive the AFP of crucial funds for its modernization program.

The DND and AFP are supposed to receive 50% of the cash payment that the private sector partner is expected to pay under Terms of Reference for the Bonifacio South project.

The cash payment will amount to a minimum of P7 billion, of which at least P3.5 billion is expected to be given to the AFP in 2013 if the public bidding pushes through.   

"Any delay in the generation of AFP funds can be a national security risk," he said.

SM had made an unsolicited offer of P36,900 per square meter in 2010, which the government accepted, setting the stage for a so-called Swiss challenge, where other investors can make higher bids SM could choose to match.

Last year, BCDA terminated the "Competitive Challenge" proceedings and decided to dispose of the property through open bidding.

SM Land raised its offer to P38,500 per sqm, but Casanova said this was "far below" the prevailing market price in the area. He noted the nearest property of McKinley costs between P80,000 per sqm to P100,000 per sqm. 

"SM Land Inc. has no right to compel BCDA to accept a lower value for the property it offered in an unsolicited and negotiated process.  As stewards of public assets, our job is to generate the best value for our government in an open and competitive bidding where SM Land is very much welcome to participate in,” Casanova said.