Beyond the series of embarrassing reports related to the ill-prepared hosting of South East Asian Games (SEAG) are possible cases of massive land-grabbing and illegal deals, a farmers’ group claimed.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) accused the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), led by House of Representatives Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, of selling off vast tracks of agricultural land in Central Luzon to a Malaysian firm under the guise of hosting the biennial sports event.
“The Philippines government’s real intention in the hosting of the SEA Games is to pimp our land and resources, particularly the 9,450 hectare-New Clark City in Central Luzon,” KMP vice-chairperson Joseph Canlas said in a statement.
Canlas said that the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) inked a multi-billion deal with a Malaysian company MTD Capital Berhad for the development of New Clark City (NCC) as a SEAG venue for two events.
Canlas’ group, however, said the sports complex is a part of the Phase 1A Development of the NCC that also includes the construction of a national government center complex.
The group said the PHISGOC and the BCDA, chaired by Vivencio ‘Vince’ Dizon, “circumvented legal processes and entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with MTD Capital Berhad for the construction of world-class sports facilities inside the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.”
“As a result of the deal, the [Philippine] government will have to pay the Malaysian firm the amount of Php11.1-billion for five years as repayment for the 20,000-seater athletics stadium, a 2,000-seater aquatic center, and an athletes’ village,” the KMP said.
The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) gave a green light to the deal that did not go through proper public bidding, the group added.
As it turned out, the KMP noted, the project was a build-and-transfer and not a joint venture agreement.
“Dizon, who leads the BCDA, was recently appointed as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects. He is a known broker of Chinese investments in the Philippines, and a close ally of House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano who is also under fire because of the overpriced Php50-million Olympic cauldron and the despicable PHISGOC SEA Games hosting,” the KMP revealed.
By 2020, MTD will start Phase 1B of the project that will build two seven-story government buildings, an integrated operations center, government housing, parks, and recreation centers, among other infrastructure, the farmers added.
The group also revealed that at least 10 local and foreign firms are eyeing investments in NCC including the $2-billion China Industrial Park spanning 500-hectares to be constructed by the China Gezhouba Group.
The Chinese industrial park will cater to light and medium industries such as those engaged in semiconductor and information technology, the group said, adding that farmers and indigenous peoples groups will finally be driven away from the area.
“Wala o kulang ang lupang sinasaka ng mga magsasaka pero ibinuyangyang sa mga dayuhan ang mga lupang agrikultural at lupang ninuno sa Tarlac at Pampanga,” Canlas said.
“May kumikita ng bilyon-bilyon sa mga proyektong nakakabit sa SEA Games at isinasangkalan ang karapatan sa lupa ng mga magsasaka at katutubo,” he added.
P2.2 billion a year
KMP’s revelations echoed warnings repeatedly issued by Senator Franklin Drilon who earlier slammed the Rodrigo Duterte government’s decision to borrow a large sum of money to host the games.
“We are incurring a loan here. Inutang natin ito from a Malaysian firm payable in five years’ time at P2.2 billion a year,” Drilon said in a television interview on November 21.
The government will be paying a Malaysian bank a total of P11 billion for the next five years over its hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has claimed.
While clarifying that he is not against the hosting of the SEA Games, Drilon said that borrowing money raises the question of propriety considering the government is already suffering from a P624-billion deficit this year.
Drilon and Cayetano also traded bards on the P50 million spent on the games cauldron to be lit on the formal SEAG on November 30 at NCC.
Cayetano has reportedly confirmed that P1.5 billion of the funds for the SEAG did not undergo bidding due to time constraints brought about by delays in the Senate’s approval of their requested budget.
Cayetano blamed Drilon for the delay. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)