Ranking solon prods Marcos to look into Central Bay project controversy

A House leader has urged President-elect Bongbong Marcos to look into the illegal claims and onerous changes to the government contract of DM Wenceslao Corp. with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) for the Central Bay construction and reclamation project.

1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda (lett) and President-elect Bongbong Marcos (Party-list Coalition, BBM Media Bureau)

1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, recently filed a resolution urging the panel to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the controversial and overpriced bay project of DM Wenceslao Corp.

"I think it would be best if the president-elect will look into this matter," Pineda, who is also chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, said in a statement Wednesday, June 8.

In September 1989, DM Wenceslao and Associates along with three other companies, collectively known as the R-1 Consortium, entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the then-Public Estates Authority (PEA), now the PRA, for a construction and reclamation project, the congressman said.

According to Pineda, the R-1 Consortium, pursuant to the MOA and an implementing agreement, opted to be paid in land, then yet to be reclaimed.

"After several years of delay and extensions, sometime in 2007, the consortium, despite the prevailing jurisprudence in the case of Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, dated May 6, 2003, DM Wenceslao Corp. has been hounding, pestering and harassing the PRA to issue Transfer Certificate of Titles (TCT) to reclaimed lands in their favor," Pineda said in the statement.

He said that pertinent provisions in the prevailing jurisprudence as cited in the case states: "Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations were allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain. But since the 1973 Constitution, private corporations were barred from holding, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The 1987 Constitution continued this constitutional prohibition. The prevailing law, before, during and after signing of the amended JVA is that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain."

It continued, "The decision has not annulled or in any way changed the law on this matter. The decision whether made retroactive or not, does not change the law since the decision merely reiterates the law that prevailed since the 1973 Constitution."

But despite this, Pineda stresed that for years on end, DM Wenceslao Corp. had been very brazen in demanding their illegal claim against the PRA in the form of issuance of Transfer Certificate of Titles (TCT) to their name.

The lawmaker also pointed out that the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) had categorically stated in an opinion that “The MOA entered into between PRA and R-1 Consortium, entered September 14, 1989, should be evaluated in light of the constitutional prohibition that private corporations cannot hold alienable lands of public domain except by lease."

Pineda claimed that various government agencies also found that certain provisions in the implementation agreement of the MOA were onerous and disadvantageous to the PEA at the detriment of the government.

Pineda said that government institutions and agencies must remain free from any harassment or attacks from power and influence-wielding private corporations that seek to earn profit at whatever cause even at the expense of the government.