NOY'S PROPONENT IN NAVY HEADQUARTERS RE-DEVPT TURNS OUT TO BE MALAYSIAN

MANILA, JULY 11, 2011 (MANILA STANDARD) by Joyce Pangco Pañares - A GOVERNMENT-backed Malaysian developer has emerged as the proponent of the redevelopment of the Philippine Navy headquarters along Roxas Boulevard that President Aquino announced in his State-of-the-Nation Address last year.

According to a Philippine Navy briefing paper, no less than Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Bin Hamidi wrote Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to push the proposal of Malaysian Resources Corp. Berhad to award the lease not only of the Navy headquarters but also of the Sangley naval base.

The Malaysian defense minister, in his letter to Gazmin in January this year, proposed that the Roxas Boulevard and Sangley redevelopment be pursued “through a government-to-government arrangement under the ambit of the RP-Malaysia Defense Cooperation,” the Navy briefing paper said.

The Malaysian developers want to turn the Navy headquarters into a mixed-use development and build a bigger shipbuilding yard out of the Sangley base in Cavite.

Contrary to Mr. Aquino’s pronouncement that the proponent was willing to pay $100 million to lease the Navy property, a Malaysian delegation said their proposal offered no such payment and was instead based on profit-sharing.

According to the Navy briefing paper, Gazmin in turn told the Malaysian delegation that the Finance Department was “not supportive” of their proposal.

It wasn’t clear what the Finance Department’s objections were to the Malaysian proposal, which turned out to have been substituted from a Singapore-led consortium, First Link, when the first unsolicited proposal was submitted to the Philippine Navy in April 2010.

LAST YEAR'S RELATED NEWS FROM GMANEWS TV

Talks for Navy's transfer to Camp Aguinaldo start 07/29/2010 | 11:46 PM

The Philippine Navy may lose its headquarters along Roxas Boulevard in Manila soon following the Aquino administration’s plan to lease the property to foreign investors.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in an ambush interview Thursday that he is meeting Acting Flag Office in Command Rear Admiral Danilo Cortez on Friday to discuss and evaluate the proposal to relocate the Philippine military’s naval arm.

“We’re going to meet to talk about the process involved so we can properly evaluate this as one of the first (priority) projects and we commit to finish this within six months," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday that private foreign groups have expressed interest to rent the Navy property along Roxas Boulevard.

Both Purisima and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda declined to name the interested parties.

Purisima, however, assured the Navy that they and all other concerned stakeholders will be consulted before the plan is finalized.

He added there has been no opposition so far from the Philippine Navy about the plan.

Lacierda, for his part, said the Department of Justice is studying the legal implications of leasing the property and transferring the Navy to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City should the deal pushes through.

“These legal implications will be looked at and addressed before executing whatever deal they may come up with," Lacierda said. – JA/KBK, GMANews.TV

AND FROM THE PHILSTAR

Navy lots for lease to business groups By Edith Regalado and Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) Updated July 29, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Negotiations to lease out the Navy’s major facilities on Roxas Boulevard and in Taguig City for private commercial development in order to raise funds for fleet modernization are in advanced stages, President Aquino told The STAR yesterday when he attended the 24th anniversary celebration at the paper’s offices in Port Area.

He also said the private developer, who he declined to name until the deal is finalized, is willing to give an initial $100 million as goodwill money, enough for the Philippine Navy to purchase four new ships to patrol the country’s 36,000 nautical miles of coastline. He noted that the Navy currently has 32 ships in its fleet, and most of these vessels are “mas matanda pa as akin (older than I am).” Mr. Aquino is 50 years old.

President Aquino, in his first State of the Nation Address last Monday, disclosed the military’s plan to have the Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard in Manila as well the Naval Station at Fort Bonifacio leased to and developed by private groups.

“They will take care of the funding necessary to transfer the Navy headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo. Immediately, we will be given $100 million. Furthermore, they will give us a portion of their profits from their businesses that would occupy the land they will rent,” he said.

“In short, we will meet our needs without spending, and we will also earn. There have already been many proposals from local and foreign investors to provide for our various needs,” he said.

“We will be able to construct the needed infrastructure in order to help tourism grow,” he said.

“The Philippine Navy welcomes this development,” Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Philippine Navy, said in reaction to Mr. Aquino’s announcement.

“We need to modernize but we have no money. So we have to come up with alternative sources of funding,” Arevalo said.

The Fort Bonifacio Naval station, which covers a golf course, housing units for officers and enlisted personnel, a hospital, and the headquarters of the Philippine Marines, covers an area of approximately 22 hectares.

The Army, meanwhile, has some 100 hectares of land at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City while the Air Force has 30 hectares at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“They will develop at no cost to us and then we will be sharing profits. The properties remain ours. This is what we call public-private partnership,” Arevalo said.

“The Army and Air Force should come up with similar recommendations which is the leasing of valuable lands without really losing ownership,” AFP spokesman, Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said.

Camp Aguinaldo would eventually be the headquarters of all three major services as well as the Department of National Defense, just like the Pentagon in Virginia in the United States.

Mabanta said the Armed Forces has a sizable share in the proceeds from the sale of military real estate assets by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

“It (proposed public-private partnership) will be one of the possible sources of funds. At this point, the major fund is the proceeds from the BCDA. We are getting a lion’s share of it as well as from government appropriations,” Mabanta said. – With Delon Porcalla


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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