Davao councilors defer vote on proposed PPP ordinance

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 August) —  The city council deferred Thursday the voting on the public-private partnership (PPP) ordinance after majority of its members urged for another public hearing on the proposed measure on August 22.

Presiding officer Councilor Melchor Quitain said this will be the last public hearing as a compromise to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Southern Mindanao, which claimed that most residents are still unaware of the proposed ordinance.

Councilor Jimmy Dureza, proponent of the ordinance, pointed out that the public is being informed on committee hearings by posting notices on bulletin boards at the city council building, but said he is willing to give Bayan a chance.

The city council invited Bayan SMR secretary general Sheena Duazo to explain the group’s opposition after it submitted its position paper to the city council last Tuesday.

Duazo said PPP will “legitimize privatization and will likely make the city government wallow more on debts, while Dabawenyos carry the burden of privatized services.”

“Bayan wants to elevate the discussion of this policy proposal into a public discourse or debate since the public will be affected and impacted by this policy,” she said.

Saying he fully understands Bayan’s stand, Dureza assured the ordinance would not lead to privatization of public services as the local government unit reserves the right to retain ownership of future PPP projects.

He said he himself will oppose the privatization of government hospitals among other social services.

Dr. Malou Monteverde, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. told the council her group is supporting the ordinance, saying it will accelerate growth in the infrastructure sector and improve business climate with the investors’ renewed confidence.

She clarified that the chamber supports PPP infrastructure development projects, but does not imply allowing privatization of public utilities such as water districts and government hospitals.

It is the local government that will decide which projects may be considered for PPP, she said.

She added the ordinance will ensure that the process of procurement will be open, transparent and competitive.

Councilor Conrado Baluran agreed to invite everyone to the public hearing.

“Honestly, I don’t have enough knowledge on this PPP. We will have the public hearing to fine tune everything,” he said.

Councilor Emmanuel Galicia said the hearing will help the council arrive at a sound decision, admitting that in the past, he voted for a legislative measure with reservations “deep in my heart.” (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)