Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said he would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a review of the lease agreement between state-run University of the Philippines (UP) and Ayala Land Inc (ALI).
Panelo said the objective of his proposed investigation was to determine whether the agreement forged in 2006 was disadvantageous to the government.
He pointed to claims that the UP property is being rented by ALI at less than P20 per square meter for 25 years.
“I will recommend to the President, aba pag-aralan natin ito mukhang kawawa na naman ang gobyerno dito,” said Panelo, who is also Duterte’s legal counsel.
“Can you imagine, 20 less pesos per square meter. I’ve been told by many businessmen, eh sila nga daw P500 per square meter, yung iba P200.”
In a statement, ALI said it welcomed the proposed audit of its lease agreement even as it claimed that the partnership had been “fruitful and beneficial for UP, ALI, and the community.”
ALI said both parties agreed that UP would receive a total amount of P10.23 billion under the 25-year contract—P4.23 billion in lease payments equivalent to P171 per square meter, and P6 billion in investments for 16 commercial buildings.
The company also said that only 20 hectares out of the 37-hectare property can be developed, given that four hectares remain with UP and 13 hectares are allocated for open space.
“Kung iyong P171 medyo mababa iyon, lalo na iyong less than P20,” Panelo said.
“You have to look at the contract. Even assuming kasi may statement na sila eh, iyan ang sinasabi nila. Kapag ganyan, kailangan siguro magkaroon ng pagbabago ng terms dito.”
The possible review of the lease agreement comes after Manila Water Company Inc., another Ayala-led company, along with its competitor Maynilad Water Services Inc. has caught the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for supposedly onerous concession deals with the government.
The government was in the process of finalizing new contracts minus the provisions allegedly disadvantageous to the government and the consumers.
Duterte has publicly protested a liability clause in the concession agreements that holds the government liable if it interferes with the implementation of water rates and accountable to indemnify the companies for losses incurred.
The government has already revoked the extension of the concession agreements up to 2037 as these were approved way before the existing contracts were supposed to expire in 2022. — MDM, GMA News