POSTSCRIPT / July 19, 2011 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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SM cries foul in sale of Bacolod lot to ALI

SM vs AYALA: Step back and watch the giants fight.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. is crying foul over the Negros Occidental provincial government’s decision last week to award a 77,068- square-meter prime property in Bacolod City to Ayala Land Inc. through a negotiated sale.

The provincial government resorted to a negotiated sale when SMPHI refused to participate in that undertaking after questioning the decision of Gov. Alfredo Maranon and the awards committee to declare as failure the July 7 public bidding of the property.

SMPHI submitted a financial bid of P18,888/sqm for the purchase of 35,587 sqm while ALI bid for P23,626/sqm for a reduced area of 27,440.25 sqm, or effectively P17,719.50/sqm. Moreover, SMPHI’s bid for the 40,481-sqm portion of the property marked for lease was P65/sqm against ALI’s bid of P50/sqm.

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FAILED BID: Based on the numbers, SMPHI’s offer appears to be superior. But, the committee chaired by Maranon declared the bidding a failure on the ground that all the offers were below the floor price or appraisal value of P19,500/sqm. SMPHI complains that this supposed floor price was never disclosed in the pre-bid conference.

Given that the floor price was set by the Commission on Audit, SMPHI said that COA’s own Circular No. 88-296 and jurisprudence provide that failure of bidding can be declared only if: (a) there is one offeror, or (b) all the offers/tenders are non-complying or unacceptable.

Assuming a floor price was set, SMPHI said it was still compliant under COA rules, specifically COA Memoranda Nos. 91-712 and 88-569, that allow a variance of not more than 10 percent between the floor price and the bid. SMPHI said its bid was only 3 percent lower than the questioned floor price.

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MARTIINEZ BOOK: I found in my pigeonhole the other night copies of the book “A Country of Our Own” by the award-winning author David C. Martinez. They were sent by reader Jerry Y. Miraflor of Dumaguete City, townmate of the writer. Thank you.

Interest in the book was rekindled when, for my Postscripts of July 12 and 14, I culled heavily from Chapter XI (The Religion of Blame) after seeing that what it said seven years ago was still relevant to our present socio-political state.

Its subtitle “Partitioning the Philippines” gives the underlying theory of Martinez that the country is moving toward disintegration. Reading his 514-page book (published in 2004 by Bisaya Books of Los Angeles), replete with data, historical facts and case studies, one gets the feeling he may be right.

Along the same line, Joseph E. Fallon of New York said in the foreword: “The Republic of the Philippines is dying. A grand but failed experiment, its American political façade masks a historical Hispanic realty – where wealth and political power… remains concentrated in the hands of a few families.”

In his own preface, Martinez said “The patriot Jose Rizal’s life… was dedicated to awakening the Filipino from his slumber. I beg to differ. The Filipino… is not asleep — he’s comatose, and I submit that only the deliberate, resolute rejection of that failed and fabricated identify in favor of his primal sense of self, only a return to his original sense of culture and community… can bring him back to consciousness and from thence to the responsibility of freedom.”

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WHO’S FILIPINO?: A product of Silliman University, Martinez was a practicing lawyer and activist when he was arrested upon the declaration of martial rule in 1972. Six weeks later, he escaped. He was reunited with his family in Southern California with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In Chapter I (Epiphany), Martinez recalled that escape:

“In November 1972, on a slow and fragile barter boat to Sabah from the sleepy seaside town of Bongao in the southernmost Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, I asked a new-found friend and benefactor if he was Filipino. ‘No,’ he said. ‘I’m Tausúg.’ But of course Madyasin Alpha was mistaken — dreadfully mistaken.

“During the 330-odd years that our country was colonized by Spain the Tausúg, Maranao, Maguindanao, and their 10 other brethren tribes in southern Philippines — unlike most of the rest of our forbears — never surrendered their Muslim faith. Never truly conquered and never converted, they have every reason to be proud of their heritage, which includes resisting the Americans, who governed the archipelago for close to half a century until 1946. Neither did they bow completely to the decolonized, independent Republic that followed. Still — whether they liked it or not — they were Filipinos. They were citizens of the Philippines. “My question was rhetorical and my interest intellectual, but what began as an innocuous conversation soon became an intensely emotional exchange, especially when my friend ardently advocated his region’s secession from the Philippines, predicting the ugly rebellion that over the years was to drive 100,000 to Malaysia, create a million internal refugees, and claim as many as 120,000 lives. At the end of our dialogue, which left me frustrated and fatigued, there was no question in my mind that his views were unacceptably separatist.

“Later that night, when we reached the port of Semporna, I suddenly realized the utter foolhardiness of what I had done. I had — unintentionally, to be sure — inflamed the passions of the man into whose hands I had entrusted my safety, the very man who, as I shuddered in the midnight air, had just made good on his promise to help me flee the fledgling Marcos dictatorship, installed six weeks earlier. I shuddered at the thought that he and his brawny men… could have thrown me to the sharks. But the suspicion was both momentary and unkind: that would have been uncharacteristic of him.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 19, 2011)

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