By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday defended the construction of the P8-billion new Senate building in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Amid backlash from netizens, Lacson took to Twitter to maintain the importance of relocating the Senate to a four-tower building that is expected to be completed in 2022.
“To the small-minded critics, I dare say, the Senate building is not for us. We are leaving the institution soon. We want the succeeding generations of lawmakers who will come after us to behave and act with the dignity of an edifice that is iconic, green, functional and secure,” the senator wrote.
Lacson chairs the Senate Committee on Accounts handling the planned transfer of the Senate from the GSIS building in Pasay City, to a 1.8-hectare lot in the Philippine Navy Village in Fort Bonifacio.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Senate’s new home was held last Monday, March 18, kicking off its 40-month construction.
But the planned construction did not sit well with the public, criticizing the Upper Chamber for supposedly prioritizing its P8-billion headquarters over the public health, housing, mass transport, and education needs of the country, among other concerns.
Lacson, last Monday, explained that once the new building is complete, the Senate no longer has to pay the GSIS for rentals, and the government would save at least P171 million a year.
The cost of the future Senate building was earlier pegged at P4.58 billion, as submitted by lowest bidder AECOM Philippines, Inc., which was chosen to design the new Senate building.
Lacson explained that they had to make “adjustments” due to the increase in construction costs brought about by inflation.
Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. also bagged the contract to build the new Senate headquarters. To recall, the firm was tagged in controversial construction projects in Makati City which the Senate investigated years ago.
But Lacson assured that Senate and the Department of Public Works and Highways will “be there every step of the way.”
“They said ‘it will be our chance to redeem our name’ because their name was sullied somewhat during the Senate hearings,” Lacson told reporters last Monday.
The lot, meanwhile, was sold by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) at P90,000 per square meter. He earlier said that that the Senate has already given P500 million as down payment to BCDA. The rest would be paid in installment basis in 15 years.