Gaisano can build 2nd mall at Surigao’s boulevard, says councilor

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/9 Nov) – There is no legal roadblock whatsoever for the construction of another Gaisano commercial building at the city-owned prime property at the boulevard whose lease contract with a businessman is under question.

This was according to City Councilor Jose Expeditus B. Bayana, who argued that the city’s lease contract with businessman Alfredo T. Bonpin, who is in a joint venture with Gaisano, remains valid despite Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas’s contention that the agreement had been nullified.

The councilor said the 2005 lease contract, in which Bonpin was allowed to utilize the property to build a “commercial trading center,” remains in force and operational.

Bayana said he heard reports that the city legal office and the city engineer’s office are against issuing a building permit because the contract has been cancelled. “But the contract is still existing,” he stressed.

Matugas had earlier said no construction permits will be issued to Bonpin’s group because the local government deemed the contract terminated when former Mayor Alfonso S. Casurra terminated it in 2009, backed by a city council resolution.

Bayana, who chairs the council’s committee on trade, business, industry and economic enterprise committee, said he and his colleagues were baffled on the insistence of Matugas that the contract has been canceled.

A joint city council committee last August found that the local government’s contract with Bonpin remains valid and enforceable. The city council adopted the findings of the joint committee, led by Bayana and Councilor Luceniano E. Lancin.

Matugas vetoed the resolution, but Bayana said it had no effect because the 10-day period allowed for vetoes had already lapsed.

Bayana noted that the 10-day period should start Aug. 15 when the city council acted on the joint committee’s findings. “We receive his (Mayor Matugas’s) veto message only last Sept. 3,” the councilor said, although he admitted that it was dated Aug. 23.

Matugas disagreed with the findings of the committee review, citing an alleged technical flaw: the original contract was signed with the Surigaonon Rural Banking Corp. (SRBC) Realty and Development Corporation, not with the Surigaonon Realty and Development Corporation (SRDC), as the committee repeatedly alludes in its findings.

Bonpin owns both companies.

“There is nothing to discuss on the merits and/or demerits of the Lease Contract since Surigaonon Realty Development Corporation has no personality or legal basis being not a party of the Lease Contract previously entered into by the City Government and the SRBC Realty and Development Corporation,” Matugas said in his veto.

Construction of the first Gaisano Mall in Kilometer 4, National Highway is now being fast-tracked and is expected to partially open on Dec. 8. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)