BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Wednesday said the city will stick to what is legal and fair on the market development issue in response to calls for the cancellation of the city’s contract with the Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corporation (Uniwide).
“We understand the point of our vendors but there is an existing contract with Uniwide and that contract has been declared legal by the court. We have to abide by that,” the mayor said.
He said cancelling the contract as what the market vendors and Vice Mayor Edison Bilog had proposed would put the city in a precarious situation as Uniwide, being a party to the bilateral contract, can sue the city for breach of contract.
He said the best thing to do is to talk to Uniwide and iron out its plans for the project.
The company wrote the mayor last Nov. 9 signifying its intention to continue the project to feature an eight-storey edifice while also assuring the company’s capability to undertake the long-shelved project.
Uniwide chair Jimmy Gow promised the city to submit a new building design, structure and engineering plan within six months to one year. The documents will include the new cost estimates.
The original plan approved under the lease agreement forged in 1995 provides for a six-storey building with a total cost of P1.7 billion. Uniwide will operate the upper floors for 30 years while the first floor where the main market place and legitimate vendors will be housed will continue to be operated by the city government.
The mayor assured the vendors that the development of the market will not happen outright as the city still needs to settle many issues before the development project can push through.
He said the city still has to wait for the finality of the court order to seal the issue on the legality of the design-build-lease scheme for the market development.
Then, the city will wait for the revised plans and cost estimate for the project which will then be submitted for scrutiny and approval of the city council.
After this, the city and Uniwide will have to tackle the ground preparations before the project can take off including the relocation site for the vendors at the Slaughterhouse compound.
He again assured the vendors they will not be evicted from the city market as long as they are legitimate stallholders.
The Supreme Court last Sept. 2, affirmed the validity and constitutionality of Ordinance No. 38 series of 1995 which provides the guidelines for the market development along with the award of the project development to Uniwide and the amended DBL agreement.
Uniwide won the bid for the project in 1995 but the development project was stalled after four cases were filed separately in 1996 against city officials and Uniwide by the Hilltop Open Market Vendors Credit and Services Corporation (HOMVECSCO) for declaratory judgement, preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order; the group of Sagayo and Gumnad et.al., the Baguio Market Vendors Association Inc. (BAMARVA) and the group of Calicdan, Dalida et. al., all for the annulment of Ordinance No. 38-1995, the award of contract and the DBL Agreement, with prayer for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Damages.
In 2008 or 12 years later, the Regional Trial Court declared the validity of the Uniwide contract and dismissed the said cases and ordered the dissolution of the writs of preliminary injunction issued initially by the court and the cancellation of the injunction bonds and denied the claims for damages by the parties.
The said decision was later upheld by the Court of Appeals./A Refuerzo