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Bible studies for judiciary; issues in SM-Pasay land deal


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Whoever says, `I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person…” (1 John 2:4, the Holy Bible).

ALTERNATIVE TO JUDICIARY LIFESTYLE CHECK, OR PROBE: Instead of a lifestyle check or an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on members of the judiciary in the wake of allegations that there is a “Madam Arlene” bribing and corrupting judges and justices to fix cases for rich litigants, why not require all officials of the judicial branch of government to undergo instead a continuing seminar on the Bible (for Christians) and on other holy books (for non-Christians), to heighten spirituality?

This continuing seminar on the Bible and on spirituality could come in the form of the regular Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for lawyers, as a pre-requisite for being allowed to continue discharging their duties and responsibilities as judges and justices. This seminar could be incorporated in the on-going and regular seminars among judges conducted by the Supreme Court.

SEMINARS ON GOD AND SPIRITUALITY FOR ALL GOV’T MEN: In fact, I will go so far to propose that even the MCLE for lawyers should now be required to contain lectures on the Bible and spirituality as well. And, as we proposed in this column a few days back, this might be an opportune time to hold such Bible seminars for all government agencies as well, including the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
These seminars should be able to instill fear and love of God among judges and justices, among prosecutors of the Department of Justice, and among all government officials and employees, to remind them of their mortality, and of the inevitability of death. They should also instill more spiritual knowledge about justice and truth, and fairness, and God’s anger against those who bribe and who corrupt others, and those who live a godless and spiritually-debased lives.

LEGAL ISSUES ON PASAY-SM LAND RECLAMATION PROJECT: Here are legal issues that confront the award made by Pasay City in favor of SM Land for the reclamation of some 300 hectares of land from the Manila Bay: can Pasay City make the award to SM Land without any bidding being held first? Can Pasay City directly make an award, not only to SM Land, but to any other interested party without any bidding? Or, is a reclamation project not subject to bidding?

These issues are cropping up after reports surfaced that the city, through the city council and Mayor Antonino Calixto, entered into a contract with SM Land for the reclamation of some 300 hectares of land from the sea wall of the existing SM Mall of Asia and extending to about 1,135 meters onwards to the sea, and from Sofitel Hotel and Cultural Center of the Philippines, only on the basis of a letter of intent from SM Land.

JOINT VENTURE PROJECT, ALL IN ONE DAY? The letter of intent appears to have been submitted by SM Land to Pasay City on March 07, 2013. It proposed a joint venture project with Pasay City wherein SM Land will recover some 136 hectares from the bay. On July 25, 2013, however, SM Land amended that letter of intent by asking for authority to reclaim, not just 136 hectares anymore, but 300 hectares.

On August 12, 2013, it appears that a majority of the City Council, composed of Vice Mayor Marlon Pesebre, and Councilors Allan T. Panaligan, Mary Grace Santos, Jennifer A. Roxas, Richard M. Advincula, Alberto C. Alvina, Eduardo I. Advincula, Lexter N. Ibay, Ma. Antonia C. Cuneta, Aileen Padua Lopez, Ian Vendivel, Arnel Regino Arceo, Arvin G. Tolentino, Reynaldo O. Padua and Richard C. Roxas, authorized Calixto to do two things: negotiate with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to allow the city to undertake the reclamation in question, and to negotiate likewise with SM Land for the terms of the joint venture.

However, on that same day of August 12, 2013, it would appear that Calixto, using the authorization of the city council, already awarded the joint venture agreement to SM Land. There would be more of this next issue, especially in line with the requirements of a “competitive bidding”, under Section 10, Art. IV, of Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as “An Act Providing for the Modernization, Standardization, and Regulation of the Procurement Activities of the Government and for other purposes”.

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