Rule of dumb
The drift in governance seemed to be going toward attacks against the judiciary.
The latest came from the head of the Bases Conversion Development Authority Arnel Paciano Casanova.
It seemed that Arnel Paciano did not agree with the ruling of the Supreme Court on the three-year dispute over 33 hectares of property in Fort Bonifacio.
The tirades from Arnel Paciano happened to come just a few days after another stuck-up government official, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, attacked the judiciary with accusation of corruption in the Court of Appeals.
The mother of all attacks came from our dear leader, Benigno Simeon, aka BS, who perhaps set the trend earlier when he assaulted the Supreme Court for going against his pet program for money juggling called DAP.
On the case involving the property in Fort Bonifacio, the Supreme Court in effect made a final decision that the deal between SM Land and BCDA, sealed way back in 2009, was a perfected contract.
SM Land bought the 33-ha property from BCDA through an unsolicited proposal for almost P26 billion—a fantastic sum at that time, considering it was some six years ago.
Arnel Paciano had nothing to do with the BCDA then, and when he became the boss two years after, he decided in 2012 to cancel the BCDA-SM Land deal—just like that!
In such a case in business, the rule of thumb was always to run to the Supreme Court for help, which SM Land did, and the Supreme Court subsequently ruled in favor of the company by throwing out the BCDA arguments out of the window last week.
Based on some friendly reports, albeit some dumb reports, Casanova reacted to the ruling by saying he would study it.
Even before he could study it, however, he issued statements to the effect that the Supreme Court was wrong, insisting that the ruling favored “commercial interest” over what he heroically called national security and level playing field.
“Commercial interest,” down here in my barangay, could only mean … “mukhang pera!”
The case involved the so-called Bonifacio South Pointe area in the former military base now known as Bonifacio Global City.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered BCDA with finality to honor the 2009 contract, in effect subjecting the P26-billion offer of SM Land to a Swiss challenge.
Thus, our new breed of hero, Arnel Paciano, should stop insisting that the BCDA should abandon the deal with SM Land and, instead, conduct another bidding.
The Supreme Court called the bright measure of Casanova a “unilateral cancellation of this perfected contract,” saying it was tainted with grave abuse of discretion.
In certain friendly reports, Casanova was quoted as saying in reaction to the ruling that the Supreme Court disregarded national security and level playing field in government dealings with private companies.
Of course he forgot to explain how a new “bidding,” as against the Swiss challenge, would eliminate the risk to national security, when in fact the transaction in either case would still involve the same piece of property near military offices.
He nevertheless volunteered in the same friendly reports that, some six years later, the property could now fetch a price of P78,000 per sqm, only if the BCDA would ditch the deal with SM Land and then hold a new bidding.
By the way, the Supreme Court already addressed his whining even before the dubious media reports, noting that the “alleged disadvantage the government would suffer was speculative at most.”
Under the Swiss challenge, SM Land in effect set the floor price, which other interested companies could beat by offering BCDA a higher amount, even some fantastic sum that SM Land could not possibly match.
From what I gathered, the BCDA in 2009—or six years ago—in effect already set the floor price for the contested 33-hectare property with the sale of the so-called Jusmag area at a price of P31,111 per sqm.
After the Jusmag deal, the BCDA received unsolicited proposals from Robinsons Land of the Gokongwei group and SM Land for the 33-ha property now known as Bonifacio South Pointe, while Ayala Land also submitted its own proposal much later.
SM Land submitted the highest offer of P38,500 per sqm. The BCDA board thus accepted its offer, which would be open to the Swiss challenge from other interested buyers.
Earlier friendly reports claimed that the scrapping of the deal with SM Land was an order coming from the Office of the President. Not true! It was our new breed of hero, Arnel Paciano, who instigated the move by writing a memo to our dear leader, BS.
At that time, rumors went around that another real estate firm would do everything and anything to block the SM group from having anything to do with any development at the former military base.
It was said that former BCDA officials even made calls to SM executives to that effect.
Then there came Casanova, acting like the new breed of hero by claiming that the contract between BCDA and SM Land was cooked, lopsidedly against the government, because there was no bidding.
The Supreme Court pooh-poohed his claim, because it was like pronouncing the BCDA officials guilty of crimes even without the benefit of trial or, worse, the benefit of even just the filing of cases against them.
Why would Casanova call the competitive method known as Swiss challenge as unfair – “not level playing field.”
The Supreme Court even noted that the BCDA, under Casanova, used Swiss challenge in its deal with the Metro Pacific group involving the extension of the NLEx and the SCTex.
Those were BCDA projects before the time of Casanova that BCDA, under Casanova, dealt to the MVP group using the dumb rule of Swiss challenge.
You mean, thanks to the Casanova doctrine, the BCDA could later on just cancel its deal with the MVP group because it used the Swiss challenge method?
The 33-ha deal between BCDA and SM Land did not even involve the biggest piece of property in Fort Bonifacio.
The owner of the biggest chunk of property in the former base is none other than Megaworld with some 105 hectares, which it acquired via the method using Swiss challenge.
Let us wait for Casanova to cancel those deals, too.
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