PRA probes Waterfront undervaluation rap

As the land reclamation rivalry heats up, the Philippine Reclamation Authority said it will look into the concerns raised by property developer Asian Seas Resources and Construction Development Corp., which has been asking the government to scrutinize the allegedly undervalued reclamation project of the Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc.

PRA’s Reclamation and Regulation Office general manager Joseph John Literal said his office will not turn a blind eye on matters involving reclamation projects.

“The valuation of the Waterfront Manila reclamation project, which is about P34 billion, is only based on their submissions. However, we, at the PRA, are looking into the alleged undervaluation based on industry standards,” Literal said.

Literal, however, did not disclose a timeline on when it will release the findings of the evaluation.

Cost should be higher

According to ASSERCO lawyer Jose A. Bernas, WMPDI’s P34-billion horizontal development within a 318-hectare land along Manila Bay could be “undervalued by at least three times.”

“The cost should be at least three times more. At current prices, a reclamation project these days should cost about P30,000 per square meter. The fee doesn’t cure it,” Bernas said.

The WMPDI’s massive project should amount to close to P100 billion or about P95.4 billion, he added.

Last 18 August, Literal told WMPDI president Kenneth Gatchalian that the board approved the 60 days extension for the company to settle the second tranche payment of its initial regulatory fee and social environment fund. The extension will last until 18 October.

The PRA approved WMPDI’s request after the Makati Regional Trial Court issued a decision revoking the 25 April order, given the absence of an injunctive relief granted in ASSERCO’s favor.

WMPDI recently said it already paid the PRA the required regulatory fees and social environment fund of P800 million, which was part of the conditions to mobilize the project.

Literal, however, noted that the amount paid is only part of the full fee that the WMPI needs to settle.

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