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By Ray Eñano
August 8th, 2013

State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority may have the biggest land bank in the Philippines and its real estate holdings may increase in the future if the central government allows it.
BCDA president and chief executive Arnel Paciano Casanova acknowledged the possibility that more military camps and reservations might fall into the agency’s hands over time. Sprawling camps like the 178.8-hectare Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, the military headquarters of the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon City, and the 55-ha.Veterans Memorial Medical Center at the corner of Mindanao Avenue and North Avenue are potential property holdings that any President of the Philippines can transfer to the BCDA for disposition.
Camp Aguinaldo, formerly known as Camp Murphy in honor of the first American high commissioner, Frank Murphy, covers nearly 180 hectares at a strategic part of Quezon City. The government purchased about 152 has. of the land in the 1930s and received some 26 has. as donation from Ortigas and Co. Partnership Ltd.
The Veterans hospital, meanwhile, includes a 33-ha. 18-hole golf course that lies near two giant shopping malls. The Department of Defense administers the facility but Casanova said the chief executive could designate BCDA to administer its privatization, if the national government decides so.
BCDA has disposed of Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base, now known as Bonifacio Global City and Newport City, respectively, which since then have been transformed into new premier mixed-use districts. It still owns the military reservations of John Hay Station, Wallace Air Station, O’Donnell Transmitter Station, San Miguel Naval Communication Station and Mt. Sta. Rita Station in Hermosa, Bataan.
The agency is also in the process of preparing to dispose of other assets, such as the 5-hectare Camps Melchor and Atienza and the 1.2-hectare Philippine Navy Headquarters along Roxas Boulevard.

Reclamation an option
Casanova told this writer over dinner last week that BCDA under its charter is permitted to reclaim lands in areas adjacent or contiguous to its landholdings. The agency, thus, can opt to reclaim part of Manila Bay where the navy headquarters is located, presumably in partnership with the Public Estates Authority. The navy property, while occupying a mere 1.2 ha. of land, could be a potential gold mine for BCDA, if the reclamation plan pushes through.
The reclamation could rival the project of Manila Goldcoast Development Corp., owned by the family of chairman and chief executive William Tieng. Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has just given his endorsement to Tieng’s project, amid the financial difficulties of the city he inherited from the former mayor. Erap sees the project as a venture that will boost Manila’s finances and reshape the city’s landscape.

LTO’s piling bills
Stradcom Corp., the IT provider of the Land Transportation Office, is mystified over the reluctance of LTO chief Virginia Torres to withhold the payment for the services that the company has rendered in the issuance of driver’s license. LTO’s bill has increased to over P4 billion, despite the Supreme Court’s decision to resolve an intra-corporate dispute in the company.
Stradcom lawyer Eric Pilapil accused Torres of withholding the payment and deplored the reported assertions of the LTO chief on the supposed tax liabilities of Stradcom.
Pilapil said Stradcom did not suspend its services despite the non-payment for which the government should be thankful. National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, in contrast, cut the electricity supply to the province of Albay due to over P1 billion in unpaid bills of Albay Electric Cooperative.
“In a March 18, 2013 Resolution of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 204754, the Honorable Supreme Court upheld the findings of the Court of Appeals that concerned the intra-corporate dispute before the Regional Trial Court whereby it was ruled that the Sumbilla Group are nuisance parties and that the Quiambao Group are effectively the lawful and duly elected directors, officers as well as stockholders of Stradcom Corp.,” Pilapil said.
On the matter of income taxes that Torres is insisting the company should pay, Pilapil said “it is the company’s respectful and considered position that the P1-billion payment made to the company [last January] was not enough to trigger the income tax due for the subject calendar year.”
For Stradcom to pay the P317 million in taxes that Torres is insisting, Pilapil said the company should receive P2.2 billion in payments from out of the escrow funds that are under the control of Torres.
E-mail: rayenano@yahoo.com or business@mst.ph or extrastory2000@gmail.com

Philippine Real Estate News