Firm exec defends deal on Manila’s Quinta Market
He had some explaining to do, including a clarification about his company’s address.
An officer of the firm tapped to modernize Quinta Market in Quiapo, Manila, maintained that its joint venture agreement (JVA) with the city government was legal and above-board, in reaction to a vendors’ association and a congressman questioning the deal.
Carlos Ramon Baviera, who signed the JVA on June 16 as director and treasurer of Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp., said the company pursued the contract guided by Ordinance 8346, which sets the rules for entering into joint ventures and public-private sector partnerships with City Hall.
“I can personally say that we went through the proper process in submitting our proposal to the city government,” said Baviera, who described himself as one of the Marketlife investors. He said he also had 33 years of business experience in telecommunications, real estate and banking.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Baviera confirmed a statement coming from Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing Jr. that the company sent an unsolicited proposal to the city government in September 2014, two months before Marketlife was incorporated.
“Marketlife was really incorporated specifically for the project in compliance with City Hall’s requirements,” he said. “We learned about the city’s joint venture ordinance, which provided processes for solicited and unsolicited proposals. So we submitted an unsolicited proposal for the rehabilitation and management of Quinta Market.”
The five investors behind Marketlife submitted the proposal as a consortium of businessmen, he added. “However, we were told by the city government that they do not deal with individuals but only with corporations,” he said, explaining why Marketlife was incorporated only after a proposal has been sent.
“We have watched the market transform through the decades. It’s a very famous market and we want to revive its former glory,” he added.
He noted that it took 10 months before their proposal was approved by the city government and ratified by the council. “When the city government told us to present our plans to the vendors, we complied. We explained what we would do to the market, answered their questions, and I believe we allayed their concerns.”
Regarding the company’s capitalization, he also confirmed that Marketlife had only P3.2 million in paid-up capital, as noted earlier by Bagatsing. But he sought to dispel the congressman’s insinuations that the company could not finance the rehabilitation of the market.
‘Clean, modern marketplace’
“The P3.2 million in our registration papers with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is the minimum amount of capital required by law. Now that our proposal has been approved, the investors will now shell out the rest of the capital requirement,” Baviera explained.
Marketlife, he said, would eventually have P50 million in paid-up capital to be used for the rehabilitation of the market. A private bank has also granted the company a P100-million credit line facility for the project, which will raise the company’s funds for Quinta Market to P150 million, he added.
The company is also taking out another P50-million loan. “Taking out loans to spend on projects is a standard practice in business,” Baviera said.
The JVA puts the cost of renovating Quinta at P90 million. Under the agreement, the firm will remit 20 percent of its earnings to City Hall.
Marketlife aims to transform Quinta into “a clean and modern marketplace” to attract more merchants and shoppers. A two-story building (not three-story, as earlier said by Mayor Joseph Estrada) will replace the current structure, with stalls and shops in the ground floor and parking space on the second floor.
“We will also revive the fishport that was once a part of the market, so that fishing vessels (in the Pasig River) have another option on where to dock aside from the Navotas fishport. We will also place an ice plant as well as commercial spaces for fast food shops. We really want to spruce up the market,” he said.
Demolition crews started tearing down the market on Monday after the vendors from the Quinta Market Development Cooperative failed to get a restraining order from a local court last week. The group is being supported by Bagatsing in questioning the legality of the JVA.
Guaranteed income for gov’t
According to Baviera, Marketlife plans to offer the new stalls at a daily rate of P70 or P80 per square meter. That’s double the present rate of P40 per square meter.
“When we designed this proposal, we looked at all aspects to make this a really win-win solution,’’ he said. “The city government gave us the option to collect goodwill money from the vendors, but we didn’t exercise that. It will still be a daily lease. Sure, lease rates could increase, but at very reasonable rates.”
“For the city government, we offered them a very competitive package. Currently they only earn P4 million a year from the market. But with our structure, we offer them either 15 percent of the gross income, 30 percent of the net income, or P6 million, guaranteed, whichever is higher,” he said.
“This is already 150 percent of what they earn from the market, and they will have no expenses. No personnel to manage. It’s really advantageous to the government,” Baviera said.
According to the JVA, Marketlife’s office address is at Unit 2018, Mayfair Tower, UN Avenue corner Mabini Street, Ermita, Manila.
Before getting Baviera on the phone, the Inquirer tried to go to that address on Wednesday. However, the Mayfair Building lobby receptionist and security guard on duty—and later a staff member of the administration office—all said that they had no tenant called Marketlife Management & Leasing Corp. They also said no when asked if there’s a unit under Baviera’s name.
There’s not even a “Unit 2018” since the building has only up to Unit 2010, they said.
Told of this during the interview, Baviera said: “I think they may have misunderstood your queries. When we registered, our unit at Mayfair Tower was the only office space available to us.”
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