The American Battle Monument Cemetery under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has exceeded its limits concerning a land owned by Taguig City, which is meant to serve as a civic center. Because of that, the BCDA and the Taguig city agreed to trade their land properties. The BCDA gave Taguig City a piece of land located in Fort Bonifacio as a compromise to replace the land that was used for the cemetery. In October 21, 1999 and February 11, 2004, the two parties had a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the deed of conveyance (DOC) with no restrictions from the BCDA.
In 2007, Taguig has decided to lease the Fort Bonifacio property through bidding, where in the SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) won. After that, Taguig and SMPHI had a contract lease of the land in November 21, 2007 and Aug 1, 2008. However, BCDA meddled with the construction of SM Aura, insisting that the land should be used by Taguig city.
Meanwhile, according to the MOA, it was stated in the contract that the BCDA has not given any limitations to the property presented to Taguig city. The property is legally owned by Taguig, giving the city the right to do what they want to the land. Taguig had been more than glad with the fact that SMPHI leased their property, making the Fort Bonifacio more developed.
However, the CEO of BCDA, Arnel Casanova said that "What Section 2 of the Deed of Conveyance means is that the BCDA is not questioning the use of the land as long as it complies with R.A. 7917, and is within the parameters of civic use. As long as they use the land either for national or local government centers, sports facilities or parks, we will not place restrictions. But what they did was use the land for a mall, which is a clear violation of the law," he added.
Republic Act 7917: Approximately forty hectares (40) of land in Fort Bonifacio shall be retained as national and local government centers, sports facilities, and parks.
"Ang balita namin this is a property with restrictions. So then they produced a deed of conveyance (DOC) which clearly states no restrictions. So, I don't know what they're talking about,” Hans Sy, the CEO of SMPHI replied.
Through this interview from GMA news, it is apparent that there has been a misunderstanding with the contract. Moreover, I guess Taguig city should be the one liable for the case; after all, SMPHI is leasing the property from Taguig and BCDA just was the one who presented the property to Taguig City. BCDA should question Taguig city more than it should question SMPHI. Also, there has been a speculation that BCDA interfered with the project, because SM Aura is allegedly pulling away the profits of Market! Market! And Serendra, which are Ayala-owned attractions in The Fort. It has been said that Ayala Land has influence over BCDA.
Written by: Jam Daquio
Edited by: Katrina Pulvera