BAGUIO CITY – The City Council confirmed some thirty-seven contracts of market building owners who agreed to renew their expired agreements with the local government for the final fifteen years of their occupancy in their structures before turning over the same to the city after the expiration of the said contracts.
Members of the local legislative body agreed to the recommendation of the Committee on Laws chaired by Councilor Faustino Olowan to confirm the contracts of the 37 market building owners which contained the provision that upon the lapse of the 15-year agreement, the buildings and other improvements introduced by the owners in the city-owned land will automatically accrue to the local government.
Earlier, City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias informed members of the local legislative body that 81 market building owners already agreed to sign the renewal of the contracts containing the final 15-year extension for their stay in the structures built through the years while 46 building owners remain adamant in signing the renewed agreement because they want the 15-year provision to be scrapped.
Cabarrubias claimed the market building owners who have not yet renewed their contracts are given until August 27 to renew their agreements with the local government which will include the provision on the 15-year lifespan of the contract or else the building owners will be compelled to remove their improvements and the local government will bid out the property pursuant to the recommendations of the Commission on Audit (COA).
Based on the investigation conducted by personnel of the City Treasury Office, a building owner in the market is reportedly earning a monthly income of P140,000 from the lease of the available spaces in the structure but remits only P2,700 to the local government as rental.
Under the revised contract, the market building owners will be paying the city a rental of P6 per square meter per day for the first five years of the contract which will increase by P1 per square meter per day during the sixth to ten year and an additional P1 for the eleventh to fifteen year of the contract.
Previously, the market building owners were paying to the city only P0.25 per square meter per day as rentals before it was increased to P0.75 per square meter per day as rentals over the city-owned lands that they have occupied over the past 45 years.
In an Audit Observation Memorandum, the COA found that the local government had been allegedly entering into agreements with the building owners for the utilization of the city-owned lands where their structures were erected without any maturation period at such low rates, thus, the city must bid out the use of its properties for a better deal that will be advantageous to the local government.
On his part, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan explained that despite the COA recommendation to bid out the property, he went out of his way to reach out to the market building owners to strike out an agreement that is beneficial both to the city and the building owners and majority of them agreed to the contents of the new contract but some of them still refuse to renew their contracts.
By Dexter A. See