Fate: R2 Builders’ settlement offer anti-poor, anti-government
An alliance advocating for good governance on Wednesday slammed the lawmakers who were defending the P5-billion settlement offer of real-estate developer R-II Builders Inc. over the botched Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project (SMRDP).
“The Home Guaranty Corporation was right in rejecting outright the offer of R2 Builders. The offer was anti-poor and anti-government,” declared Jennifer Castro, president of the Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment (Fate) in a statement.
Castro clarified that R2 Builders owes HGC P10 billion and not P5 billion in principal including accumulated interests.
“His settlement offer is baseless. It’s grossly disadvantageous to the government. In fact, R2 Builders is even unable to show that it has P1 billion in its coffers,” Castro said.
Lawmakers Joel Batocabe of Ako Bicol partylist and Winnie Castelo of Quezon City have expressed disappointment over the decision of the Home Guaranty Corporation to reject a P5-billion offer from real estate developer R-II Builders Inc. over the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project (SMDRP) saying such decision is anti-Filipino taxpayer.
Corpuz had earlier said her office had rejected R-II Builders’ offer because it was too low for the company’s exposure.
The COA had been calling on the HGC to settle its financial issues with government and real estate developers in order to bring it back to fiscal viability.
The “P5-billion is definitely low and is not acceptable,” Corpuz, HGC officer-in-charge said in an emailed statement.
In July 2015, Reghis Romero II of the of R-II Builders offered to reimburse the state some P5 billion for the project.
The same offer was rejected by HGC lawyer Dexter Licuanan. While he emphasized the need to settle the two-decade dispute, Licuanan noted that the Romero group should make a just offer.
The project was originally envisioned by President Corazon C. Aquino to convert the former dumpsite into a habitable housing project.
Under President Fidel V. Ramos’ administration, the National Housing Authority (NHA) was assigned as the developer and authorized to enter into a joint venture with R-II Builders.
Under a joint venture agreement, R-II Builders would finance the development and construction of 2,992 temporary housing units, and 3,520 units of medium-rise housing. The deal included the development of industrial and commercial sites within Smokey Mountain.
Former HGC President Manuel Sanchez initially estimated the area to be worth P9.5 billion.
“Romero also wants mutual withdrawal of cases. If we do that, the claims of the government will be lost forever. We have to make sure that the settlement would be fair and proper,” Sanchez said.
HGC is mandated to provide risk coverage and tax or fiscal incentives to banks and financial institutions or investors engaged in housing development loans or credits, and home financing.
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