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Unarmed forces

Wait a minute here; just wait a freaking minute!

The BCDA—Bases Conversion and Development Authority—says that news outfits lied in their reports about the raid done by heavily armed personnel in Taguig City last month.

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The reports said the BCDA had tried to stop construction work on some minor road serving as another access (the other one is C-5) into the SM group project at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

Word also went around that the BCDA wanted to isolate the SM group project from the rest of the BGC, perhaps in an attempt to protect the existing business establishments there from stiff competition called SM Aura.

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Trying to belie those reports, BCDA president and CEO Arnel Casanova claimed in his letter to news outfits that BCDA people went to the SM Aura site “unarmed.”

But let me refer you to this link — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhUNdmiH43E.

The video showed that heavily armed personnel were around the BCDA boss during the raid.  That is why the reports said he personally led it.

At one point in the video, which also showed BCDA personnel in full battle gear, the apparent head of the BCDA raiding team threatened the construction people: “Magkakabarilan tayo nyan… (We will have a gunfight…)

There, ladies and gentlemen, those men in full battle gear were what Casanova called “unarmed.”

While the raid brought to mind those dark days of martial rule in this country, the controversial BCDA commando-like surprise attack only meant to accomplish one thing: to isolate the SM Aura project of SM Property Holdings Inc., or SMPHI.

While BCDA personnel already put concrete barriers on the road to block traffic, the video also showed they had to obstruct it with a huge truck, with clear orders from the security boss to the driver to just leave the chunk across the road.

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Anyway, it seems that Casanova is now trying to bring the issue to SMPHI, claiming in his letters that the SM Aura project violated the law, specifically RA 7917, which amended the original law on the conversion of military bases in the country.

As I said in a previous column, Casanova and his BCDA boys did not even bother to question in court the legality of the SM Aura project. Boss, there was no court ruling on that score. Basta!

So they used “unarmed” men, but not to stop the construction of this “illegal” building,  mind you, and they just blocked the access road, which nevertheless was not illegal, because the city government issued permits for the road construction.

And there you have him, the CEO and president of a government outfit that is suppose to handle billions of pesos worth of business for the country, involving thousands of hectares of prime land: He would stop something “illegal” worth P3.5 billion after three years of construction by blocking the road with the use of “unarmed” men.

Methinks that if Casanova really had valid issues over the 3.5-hectare property of the SM Aura, which SMPHI merely leased from the Taguig City government, he and his BCDA boys should run after the Taguig City government.

After all, the city government issues all the business, construction, occupancy and all sorts of permits to all the business establishments in the BGC.

If you remember, the Taguig City government long ago held a public bidding for the development of that 3.5-hectare property that BCDA already handed over to the city more than 10 years ago. SMPHI took part in the bidding and won. Two years after the bidding, without a whimper from the BCDA about legality and all that jazz, SMPHI started construction of the SM Aura project. It took the company three years to complete it for about P3.5 billion.

SMPHI claims it followed the rules set by the Taguig City Council on the use of the property, which they approved in 2009, or more than four years ago.

The city council required the construction of the “Taguig City Civic Center” on the property. Since the city government did not have the money to invest in such a grand scheme, it went for a joint venture development with a private company that was willing to shoulder the entire cost. How would the company recover its investments then? The city council decided that the developer should be allowed to operate commercial establishments in the “civic center” to recover its investments.

In other words, SMPHI had a deal with the Taguig City government—and not with BCDA. And yet Casanova and his boys did not question the city government that owned the property. They just went ahead to punish the renter.

That would be the BCDA martial-rule brand of police power for you!

Casanova also claimed that the SM Aura project did not follow the so-called master development plan of the BGC.

Anyway, following the claim of Casanova, it now seems that all the other projects in BGC followed the alleged master plan, including the laying down of “gas pipes” under the streets that, according to certain BGC establishments, already caused dreadful disturbances not so long ago. Some master plan!

Anyway, the 3.5-hectare property developed by SMPHI belonged to the Taguig City government—meaning, it does not belong to the BCDA. Thus it was no longer covered by the immense power of the BCDA to implement the rumored master plan.

In a way, Casanova and his boys could use all the “unarmed” men in the world to tell everybody that SMPHI violated the BCDA master plan, but they would only be wasting their saliva. The property no longer belonged to the BCDA.

Let me see if I got this right—and so Casanova used “unarmed” men to block the road in the property that did not belong to the BCDA, because the developer had the gall to violate the BCDA’s alleged master plan, which the developer nevertheless did not have to follow, simply because the plan did not cover the developer—is that it?

And that should bring us to the most insulting propaganda line of Casanova and his boys —you know, this thing about how the SMPHI would make a lot of money, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines would not receive even just a cross-eyed centavo.

The BCDA came into being for the development of former military bases into commercial use—i.e. to make them make money. Hopefully, the BCDA would remit its income to the government to arm our military that has been unarmed for so long.

Sometime in 2004, the BCDA had to give to the Taguig City government parcels of land in an exchange deal. The city government claimed then the BCDA encroached on city property. To settle the issue, BCDA agreed to give the city parcels of land in other areas.

The 3.5-hectare property leased to SMPHI was part of the exchange deal. The BCDA in effect used it as settlement for the city territory incorporated into the American Cemetery.

In other words, even if the city government did not enter into a joint venture development with a private company for the 3.5-hectare property, the BCDA still would not make money out of it, and it still could not remit even a centavo to the military.

It seems to me that Casanova and his “unarmed” boys were only using the name of the AFP in vain. Dangerous!

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TAGS: Bonifacio Global City, Military, News, Real Estate, SM
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