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Upping the ante: The Nayon Landing Resort project

The contemporary casino is more than a gambling destination,” said novelist Colton Whitehead. “[I]t is a multifarious pleasure enclosure intended to satisfy every member of the family unit.”

Hong Kong-based Landing International Development (LID) seeks to implement its own contemporary casino in launching the Nayon Landing Resort project, which would involve the construction of a casino, hotel, and an indoor theme park on a 9.5-ha property owned by the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF).

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LID reportedly invested around $1.5 billion on its project, which aims to promote the Philippines’ rich culture.

“I have never met an investor for our country that, in the entirety of this whole project and investment, decided to promote our country,” said NPF chairperson Patricia Ocampo during the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the Nayon Landing Resort project. “That is why our whole board is 200 percent supportive until the end.”

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Before Ocampo could deliver her speech during the groundbreaking ceremony, however, Malacañang announced that President Duterte intended to fire the entire Board of Trustees of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc.

“He cited the case of Nayong Pilipino leased government property for a [ridiculously] long period of time, 70 years, beyond the lifetime of anyone, and he considered this as a contract which was grossly disadvantageous to the gov-ernment,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Furthermore, according to Roque, Duterte directed the review of the lease contract between NPF and LID, which was purportedly entered into in disregard of rules on public bidding.

At the outset, NPF is authorized to own land under Presidential Decree No. 37, which states that it may: (a) contract and be contracted with; (b) own and hold such real and personal property as shall be necessary for corporate purposes, including the property which it occupies; (c) exercise all the general powers of a corporation established under the Corporation Law; and (d) do all such acts and things as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of said Decree.

The NPF’s power to lease its own lands cannot be gainsaid. In this regard, in Shopper’s Paradise Realty & Development Corp. v. Roque, the Supreme Court held that an owner of registered land may convey, mortgage, lease, charge, or otherwise deal with the same in accordance with existing laws.

Under current laws, NPF is allowed to lease its land to LID for 70 years. It should be emphasized that Article 1643 of the Civil Code, which applies to the lease of lands, allows for the lease of things for a definite or indefinite period, and for no more than 99 years.

NPF, however, should lease its lands in accordance with government procurement under Executive Order (EO) No. 40. Section 3 of EO No. 40 states that government procurement shall be guided by the following reform principles:

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simplification of pre-qualification through the use an eligibility check, and strengthening of post-qualification;

use of the lowest calculated and responsive bid as the criterion of award in the case of procurement of goods, supplies, materials, and related services, and civil works;

use of the approved budget for the contract as the ceiling for the bid price and the award; and

the use of transparent, objective, and non-discretionary criteria which are included in the bid documents, in undertaking the eligibility check, evaluating bids, and determining the winning bidder through post-qualification.

Under the said EO, NPF should establish its own Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), which shall be chaired by at least a third ranking officer, and whose composition shall be defined in its implementing rules and regulations.

The BAC shall, among others: (a) determine the eligibility of prospective bidders; (b) receive and open bids; (c) conduct the evaluation of bids; (d) undertake post-qualification proceedings; and (e) recommend the award of the contract. All members of the BAC shall be on “jury duty” type of assignment until the notice of award is issued by the head of NPF.

Besides the standardized procedure for public bidding under EO No. 40, NPF may adopt alternative methods of procurement, such as: (a) limited source or selective bidding; (b) direct contracting or single source procurement; (c) repeat order; (d) shopping; or (e) negotiated procurement.

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