BCDA head refutes Banal’s views on SM Aura
This refers to Conrado Banal’s May 27 column, titled “Martial ruler,” which discussed the ongoing issue between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and SM over the latter’s SM Aura mall. Banal’s vigorous views, not to mention his colorful language, clearly show that he has strong feelings on the matter.
First of all, we wish to emphasize that despite BCDA’s denial of SM’s request to excavate BCDA-owned land beside SM Aura, SM destroyed the fence along McKinley Parkway Drive and unlawfully entered BCDA property. The excavation also endangered the lives of residents below the construction area due to the absence of a proper retaining wall, which SM has yet to install.
And contrary to claims that we harassed SM personnel, our staff arrived at SM Aura on May 6, 2013, unarmed. The fact is our staff was surrounded by SM personnel and Taguig police officers and, therefore, could not possibly commit harassment. Security personnel of the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), who were at the site, will attest to this.
As to Banal’s question on what made SM Aura illegal, it is Republic Act No. 7917. When the BCDA conveyed the land to Taguig, the Deed of Conveyance (DOC) was drafted in accordance with RA 7917. This means the BCDA is not questioning the use of the land as long as it complies with RA 7917, and is within the parameters of civic use.
The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel has the same interpretation of the DOC in its Jan. 21, 2011, Opinion No. 017: “Firstly, basic is the doctrine that laws are deemed incorporated in each and every contract.… Thus, the restrictions imposed by Sec. 1, RA 7917 overrides paragraph 5, Sec. 2 of the DOC.”
RA 7917 calls for that land to be turned purely into a civic center, and not a mall with minimal civic use. And while there looks to be an abundance of lavish features at SM Aura, there is a notable absence of any signs of civic facilities.
SM Aura also violates the Master Development Plan for BGC, which ensures the safety and convenience of the people living and working in BGC.
One only needs to experience the horrendous traffic that SM Aura has caused, not to mention the apparently poor water drainage capabilities of the building, to realize that it was never meant to be there in the first place.
We deeply appreciate Banal’s comments on this issue, and we fervently hope this letter can address his concerns.
All the BCDA wants is to fulfill its mandate: to turn former military bases into centers of growth, and help the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its modernization program. Amid the escalating crises developing near our shores, and even in our own backyard, this is more crucial than ever.
In the issue at hand, SM profits profusely while the AFP receives not even a cent. We believe that it is our legal and moral duty, as steward of AFP and as Filipino citizens, to defend the interest of our soldiers against commercial interests that conduct their business in an opaque manner. Any Filipino who loves our country can easily understand this.
—ARNEL PACIANO D. CASANOVA, ESQ.,
president and CEO,
Bases Conversion and
2/F Bonifacio Technology Center,
31st Street, corner 2nd Avenue,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
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