Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ex-SBMA chief, investor slammed for land lease deal

By Patrick Roxas

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT— Former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman and administrator Felicito Payumo and one of the investors here are now facing corruption charges for allegedly entering into a contract that deprived the government of millions of pesos in revenues each month.

In a complaint filed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, Roberto Pineda of Subic, Zambales and Jimmy Mendoza of Olongapo City claimed the lease agreement Payumo signed with Marianito Fernandez of the Subic Coastal Development Corp. on 16.5 hectares of prime beachfront property inside the freeport in July 2002 was grossly undervalued in favor of the investor.

Pineda and Mendoza claimed the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, through Payumo, leased the property to Subic Coastal Development for a “miserable pittance of P2.75 per square meters and an escalation rate of merely 6 percent once every five years.”

The complainants claimed the terms and condition of the contract show a clear and manifest bias in favor of Subic Coastal Development.

“In comparing the said contract between SBMA and SCDC with other lease contracts involving adjoining lots with exactly the same qualities, it is the honest belief of the undersigned complainants that a clear act of corruption was committed by Mr. Payumo and Mr. Fernandez,” the complaint said.

It cited the contract of Subic Aqua Sports Inc. with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, which was entered into in July 1998, which leased its area at $2.62 per sq m or P146.66 per sq m.
The complaint alleged Subic Aqua Sports is located just beside the 16.5 hectares leased by Fernandez. Eight other companies, according to the complaint, which leased properties in the same area has lease rates ranging from one dollar, or about P56 at current prices, to $2.29, or P128, each.

The complaint added that the property leased by Subic Coastal Development was then subleased by Subic Coastal Development to other companies at dramatically higher terms, a scheme that the two claimed defrauded the government of P1 million income monthly.

The sublease rates of 11 other companies to Subic Coastal Development range from P30 to P85 each.

“The property in question is now the heart of one of the nation’s summer capitals… where land is sold in tens of thousands of pesos per square meter and yet the Subic beachfront is leased off for a measly (P2.75) per square meter,” the complaint read.

“The atrocity committed here by Payumo and Fernandez is that in valuing the contract in pesos for a property that could have been competitively priced in dollars, they have deprived the government of foreign exchange revenue and further debased the value of our nation’s land, one of its fundamental natural resources,” the complaint said.

They also criticized the agreement as it said the waterfront properties of Subic were to be developed in accordance with a master plan envisioning large hotels and resorts that would be established on the other side of the beachfront so that the beach itself would remain open for public use.


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