VICE MAYOR’S ESTIMATE
IF Dagupan Mayor Benjamin Lim sells the MC Adore property for less than P400 million and the Calasiao property for less than P100 million then consider the deal as suspect.
This was asserted by Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez even as she maintained that the special session of the Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP) while she was away, that granted the mayor the authority to negotiate the sale of the controversial property is highly irregular and questionable.
Last week, the vice mayor was in the United States to receive the ‘Dayew na Dagupan‘ Award from the Dagupan City Association of Northern California, when Mayor Lim called for a special SP and nine council members attended and voted to give him blanket authority to sell MC Adore and another city property in Calasiao.
At the KBP forum last Thursday, Fernandez pointed out that the MC Adore building that is situated almost beside the Malimgas Public Market, should definitely cost more than P68 million and not less than P400 million
The vice mayor said the selling price should not only be based on the market value of the land but should include the building itself.
She said the Malimgas Market building was constructed from a P282 million loan obtained under the administration of Lim from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in 2004.
“All told, the city spent as much as P517 million including interest payments,” she said.
“So why should the city sell the property for less than P400 million when the amount only covers cost of building? What about the cost of the land?” she asked.
“Any landowner in his right mind would not sell his property at a loss unless he has a hidden agenda or is desperate for funds,” the vice mayor said.
“The city is not desperate for funds as can be gleaned from the recently approved annual and supplemental budgets,” she said as she recalled that this was exactly the reason why the SP turned down the solicited offer of Arbros Realty to buy the MC Adore property at P68 million in July last year.
The P68 million offer could not have possibly been considered since it was bought at P50 million, from the Assets Privatization Trust (APT), after Dagupan City paid the capital gains tax to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the agent’s commission, and the documentary stamp.
Another offer was made in September from Managen Realty Corporation, for P75 million, but this was also turned down by the SP.
Fernandez said the special session was dubious and irregular because it was held against several protocols.
Firstly, she pointed out that a special session of the SP can only be called when there is an emergency and the lives of the people of Dagupan are in danger.
Then, Fernandez also noted that Councilor Maybelyn Fernandez, who was acting vice mayor that time, was not notified of the meeting.
Under SP rules, it should be the vice mayor and presiding officer and in her absence the acting vice mayor and presiding officer, who should sign the notice of special session to be sent to individual councilors at least 24 hours before the convening of the same.
NOT ON LEAVE
Councilor Fernandez said she was on official business (OB) at that time as she was attending a masteral class at the Makati City University, where four other councilors, Karlos Reyna, Librada Reyna, Redford Erfe Mejia and Alvin Coquia were also enrolled and were also on OB.
In the morning of April 20, the five met but the two Reynas, Erfe Mejia and Coquia did not mention to Fernandez that there was going to be a special session that day.
During the roll call in the SP in the afternoon of April 20, assistant secretary Rizalino Uson called out the name of Councilor Fernandez and reported her absence as being on leave.
Fernandez has denied she was on leave and noted her nine colleagues convened the session without her signing the notice as acting vice mayor and presiding officer in violation of SP rules.
It was Councilor Luis Samson Jr. who reportedly notified the councilors attending the masteral class in the Makati City University, except Fernandez, to attend the special session which was finally convened at past 5:00 p.m. , not 10:00 a.m. as originally set on April 20.
Another irregularity was the designation of Councilor Jesus Canto to preside over the session although Councilor Librada M. Reyna, the SP’s presiding pro tempore, was present.
Councilor Alfie Fernandez also said he did not receive a notice for the holding of the special session.
The resolution was approved on motion of Councilor Samson, jointly seconded by Councilors Reyna, Karlos Liberato E. Reyna IV, Marc Brian C. Lim, Redford P. Erfe-Mejia, Alvin T. Coquia, Guillermo P. Vallejos, and Chester C. Gonzales, with Councilor Canto, as presiding officer.
Vice Mayor Fernandez maintained that clearly there was undue haste in the approval of the resolution authorizing the mayor to negotiate for the sale of MC Adore and the city property in Calasiao, which is a 10-hectare lot estimated to be worth more than P100 million.
“It’s the people that should judge if what they did was right,” said Fernandez.
Upon her return from the US, Fernandez went straight to the SP from the airport to preside over the SP regular session on April 23 but only three councilors were present, namely Maybelyn Fernandez, Alfie Fernandez and Jeslito Seen.
Text messages were sent to Councilors Dada Reyna and Canto for their explanation and others’ absence but neither replied. Efforts to reach the other councilors proved futile.
Fernandez said she would have proposed to the SP to call the city engineer, BIR appraiser, realtors, members of Non-Government Organizations, a representative of the Commission on Audit and others to determine the assessed and market prices of the MC Adore property and the Calasiao property.