The Supreme Court has stopped the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) from bidding out the Bonifacio South Pointe project, giving weight to the petition of SM Land Inc., which has a pending unsolicited proposal to acquire and develop the property.
A BCDA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the issuance of an injunction by the high tribunal, adding that the temporary restraining order was issued last Thursday.
“It did not specify how long the TRO would be in effect, so it’s indefinite,” the official said.
SM Land—the property development arm of the SM group of tycoon Henry Sy Sr.—gave an unsolicited proposal for the 33.1-hectare parcel of land on the southern edge of the former Fort Bonifacio military camp as early as 2009.
Under the law, an unsolicited proposal would be subjected to a so-called Swiss challenge where other interested firms would be asked to submit other bids, which the original proponent (in this case, SM Land) would have the right to match and consequently win the bid.
The government invited other parties to better SM Land’s bid of P36,900 a square meter in August 2010, but the entire process was put on hold after Malacañang decided to reject the unsolicited proposal and go for an open bidding. At the time SM made the bid, the property’s value was assessed at P9,000 per square meter.
According to Inquirer sources, the case was filed “reluctantly” by SM Land before the Supreme Court but that the firm felt that its interests had to be protected.
“I understand the company was hesitant to sue because it wants to help the government as much as possible,” said an industry official familiar with the issue. “But I guess SM had to serve notice—including to other potential bidders—that there is a pending [unsolicited proposal] process.”
The Inquirer tried to contact BCDA president Arnel Casanova but he has not replied as of press time. SM officials declined to comment on the issue.
BCDA earlier said, however, that SM Land would be invited to participate in the planned fresh bidding despite its unsolicited proposal having been rejected.
Under the BCDA’s original plan, a pre-bid conference would be conducted on Jan. 17 and the final bidding in mid-February. The government has set a base price of P13.26 billion for the property, which currently houses the Army Support Command, the Army’s Special Services Unit, and the Bonifacio Naval Station shared by the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marines.
The original SM bid would have pegged the entire property’s value at P12.2 billion.
Under the proposed BCDA bidding terms, a joint venture would be formed with the winning firm where the private entity would end up owning 55 percent of the property while the government would hold 45 percent.