President Rodrigo Duterte’s firing of the Nayong Filipino board for allegedly not bidding out a deal which would have created a new tourist destination in Metro Manila still reverberates today.
To some, it rang truth. To me, however, something seemed amiss, and I was fortunate enough to come by information which had been put out but was looked over by the mob.
The deal between Nayong Filipino and Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corporation would have led to the creation of a $1.5 billion integrated resort with indoor cultural theme and water parks.
It is said it would be much in keeping with the character of the Nayong Filipino which showcases miniatures and actual models of various Philippine tourist attractions.
Various areas would celebrate the culture, food and language of different Philippine regions, such that areas would feature Ilocano- or Visayan-speaking resort staff, giving tourists an immersive experience of Philippine culture in one place.
Moreover, the resort development dubbed NayonLanding would have created 10,000 new jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The first news articles that came out that hinted of controversy brewing around NayonLanding gave me the impression that all the trouble came from someone claiming to be a relative of the President not getting an appointment at Nayong Filipino.
In subsequent news came a rebuttal from the former Nayong Filipino Board Chairman Patricia Yvette Ocampo in the form of a post on Facebook and a statement published in a number of newspapers.
On the issue of a supposed requirement for bidding to take place, it was said former Government Counsel Rudolf Jurado claims that the Governance Commission in its memorandum circular 2018-02 revoked an old order by former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima ordering public biddings for government properties above one hectare. Furthermore, it was stated that public bidding is not required because the property was being leased and not sold. It was cited that under Republic Act 9184, the lease of the Nayong Pilipino property need not go through public bidding and is, in fact, specifically excluded from coverage of provisions on public bidding.
It was also pointed out that the Nayong Pilipino lease period was for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, and not 70 years as what had been alleged in a number of news articles.
Moreover, to disprove allegations that the deal was disadvantageous to the government, Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corporation had committed to an advance payment on the lease amounting to P827 million.
The question now arises: If it is true that no bidding was required and the deal was not disadvantageous to the government, why was the redevelopment of Nayong Filipino stopped?
Funny thing is, together with Manila Goldcoast’s Solar City project, which aimed to reclaim a portion of Manila Bay as a way toward revitalizing Manila, NayonLanding seems to be the second major redevelopment project that has been set aside for reasons that seem illogical to me right now.
Could there be very strong but silent and unseen forces at play here?