BCDA mulls raps vs SM over Taguig mall
MANILA, Philippines - The Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) may file a case against Henry Sy-owned SM Prime Holdings Inc. for the "illegal" building of SM Aura and excavation beside the mall in Bonfacio Global, Taguig City.
In a phone interview with Rappler on Tuesday, May 21, BCDA President and CEO Arnel Casanova said the agency is now exploring all legal options available to it.
"We are confident in our position. We are standing on solid ground on this issue," Casanova said. "We're talking to our lawyers and we are exploring all legal remedies."
Casanova said given that SM Aura is now operational, the government may also seek financial redress for the building of the mall.
SM had invited "Sex and the City" star and Hollywood A-lister Sarah Jessica Parker to grace the ribbon-cutting ceremony at its grand opening on May 16.
SM Aura is SM Prime's 47th mall and has a gross floor area of over 234,800 square meters.
Against the law
Casanova said the land where SM Aura sits was donated by the agency to Taguig.
He said it should have been developed for "civic" not commercial use.
SM Prime won the bidding for the land in 2007. Casanova said the BCDA was not privy to said bidding.
He maintained the construction of SM Aura violated Section 8 of Republic Act No. 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
He said this law states that proposed uses of public land are limited to "national government and local government centers, sports facilities and parks."
"We want businesses to flourish in Global City, but these enterprises must be built on trust, transparency and obedience to the rule of the law. And in this case, the use of the land is in clear violation of the law. So is it right to say that they are the good guys?" he said.
SM Prime claimed in an earlier statement its project was legal.
It said the BCDA conveyed the property to Taguig in a compromise.
"The deed of conveyance specifically provides that BCDA will not 'place any restrictions on the land use or zoning of the properties.' There are, no liens, encumbrances or restrictions annotated on the titles to the property," the company said.
Civic center or mall?
Casanova said a civic center was supposed to be built on the Global City property, not a mall.
"A mall has never been part of the master plan," Casanova said.
He said that in 2009, the building permit application for the SM project was denied because the application was for a mall.
In March this year, he said SM Prime President Hans Sy wrote the BCDA asking for the "notice to proceed."
He said the BCDA did not give the company the go signal. - Rappler.com