Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong recently dispelled corruption allegations over the award of the P6-billion Baguio City public market development project.

The city government was accused of giving undue preference to SM Prime Holdings Inc., the original proponent status (OPS) holder of the project.

“My track record would speak for itself. Kung Mamasapano nga, hindi tayo nagpapaimpluwensya, yang palengke pa. Kung sa Ninja Cops, di tayo nagpatinag, yan pa,” the mayor said.

“Here in Baguio, we exercise genuine, truthful, and authentic good governance. Bawal SOP at bawal under the table transactions dito,” Magalong added.

Mayor Magalong explained that the decision to grant SM Prime Holdings Inc. was in compliance with the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) Ordinance. According to the said ordinance, all proposals for P4 projects shall be evaluated objectively, and based on merit.

“SM’s offer was substantial, Robinsons’ was lacking. A righteous government would never settle for an inferior offer,” he added.

Swiss challenge

Meanwhile, Robinsons’ and other interested parties, including the market vendors’ groups can still challenge SM Holdings’ bid through the Swiss challenge.

It is a procurement system accepted in several countries, including the Philippines.

The term was coined as an embodiment of Switzerland’s neutrality during World Wars 1 and 2, which should also be reflected when a government awards contract to the private sector.

Benjie Magalong

Image: Facebook/Benjie Magalong-Public Servant

The Swiss Challenge under the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, or Republic Act No. 7718, involves the original proponent of the project submitting an unsolicited proposal for a qualified project. The government, in turn, will publish an invitation for comparative or competitive proposals for three consecutive weeks.

If there’s no other proposal within the period of 60 working days, the original proponent shall bag the project. However, if another proponent submits a lower-priced proposal, the original proponent shall have the opportunity to match such within 30 working days.