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[ Baguio ] Environment agency to sell part of Governor Pack road

[ ] Sunday, February 21, 2010

By Rimaliza Opiña

PORTIONS of the Governor Pack where the defunct Pantranco bus used as its terminal will be sold by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

A pre-qualification of bids was concluded by the DENR early this month and the submission of bids is scheduled from March 1 to 23.

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Lands Management Services Regional Technical Director Vic Carantes said the sale of the property is for government to maximize use of the area, especially in terms of earning more revenue for the agency.

The Baguio City Government, however, is opposing the DENR’s plan.

Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. said the City Government has other plans for the area and selling it would stall any development eyed for it by the local government.

Last February 17, the mayor wrote Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat asking for clarification if selling the 6,818-square-meter property is needed.

Carantes confirmed notices of sale have been published but only 1,941.49 square meters, not the entire terminal.

The area is now occupied by 15 lessors, including Genesis Bus Line and Victory Liner.

The mayor asked for a postponement of the submission of bids, saying the DENR might have committed a “typographical error.” He said the property should be leased, not sold.

In his letter, the mayor cited various resolutions that gear towards identifying what entity should have rights over Original Certificate of Title I, where the terminal happens to be a part of.

Another resolution asked the Office of the President to issue a proclamation awarding the same to Baguio City as site for student dormitories, guest house and government center.

But Carantes said the DENR could not cancel the submission of bids. Being the property’s owner, he said DENR has the right to have the property bid out.

“Certainly, the City of Baguio or any other local government unit for that matter cannot interfere in the administration and disposition of the subject parcel of land for the reason that this land do not belong to it. It belongs to the State, hence it is only proper that an agency of the National Government (the DENR in this case) shall be vested with the right and duty to oversee disposition of this land,” Carantes said.

The property has an appraised value of P52,000 per square meter.

Sale of the property has been conceptualized in 1992, during the tenure of Regional Executive Director Sabado Batcagan.

The idea to sell was borne from an investigation by DENR personnel that there are tenants there who are either subleasing or have defaulted in their payments.

He said these matters have been raised to past and present city officials but years passed and no one lifted a finger about this practice.

Carantes said the DENR has likewise requested for the demolition of some structures along the Bibak dormitory, which also happens to be a part of OCT I. These structures, however, still exist.

He added that in allowing use of Governor Pack Road as southbound terminal, the City Government has been collecting parking fees, yet it failed to maintain the terminal’s cleanliness.

“It is unfortunate that to date, the National Government is not getting realistic returns of revenue from the use and occupation of portions of OCT I by the different occupants thereof while the City Government realizes so much revenues from the use of the different bus companies. The projected sale therefore would be for the maximum benefit of the government in terms of revenue that will be generated in terms of appropriate and realistic fiscal return that accrue to the national coffers to further hasten economic recovery,” Carantes said.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 21, 2010.


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