THE Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) rejected claims that the deal to build the New Clark City sports complex in Tarlac won by Malaysia’s MTD Capital Bhd. was improperly awarded, amid reports that the contract was not bid out.

BCDA President and CEO Vivencio B. Dizon said in a briefing Monday that the joint venture (JV) agreement with MTD Capital for Phase 1A of the New Clark City was “legal, transparent, valid, above board and compliant with law.”

Government Corporate Counsel Elpidio J. Vega said the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel’s (OGCC) review of the JV contract authorized the BCDA to proceed, contrary to reports that the OGCC issued an unfavorable opinion.

Citing the OGCC’s comment on the January 2018 contract, Mr. Vega said, “We appreciate the feasibility, efficiency, and the financial soundness of the project… We have made our observations, comments, suggestions for the consideration of BCDA and subject there to BCDA may then give due course to the proposed joint venture agreement.”

Various media reports have claimed that the BCDA went ahead with the JV agreement with MTD Capital without securing a positive legal opinion from OGCC.

Mr. Dizon said that after the BCDA addressed and clarified the comments it received from the OGCC, the government counsel found that “provisions of the executed JV and the legal framework of the project are in compliance with the existing laws, rules and regulations,” in an October 2018 opinion.

Memorandum circular no. 2018-02 issued by Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) requires all state firms to secure a favorable legal opinion or a contract review by the OGCC before signing agreements on major projects.

Mr. Dizon added that the project was awarded properly according to the rules for unsolicited projects, which features a Swiss challenge. A Swiss challenge permits competitors to submit improved bids, which can then be matched by the original proponent.

“It is not correct to say that this did not go through public bidding. It did. It went through the mode of competitive Swiss challenge under the JV guidelines of BCDA which we are empowered to have,” he said.

He the BCDA opted for a JV instead of a build-and-transfer (BoT) scheme, calling the latter non-viable because of the time element involved. One of the New Clark City components was a sports center currently in use for the Southeast Asian Games.

“We believe, together with our advisers that the JV mode was the best mode to do this, given the financials, the technical and the legal considerations for this project, and this is confirmed by both the ADB (Asian Development Bank), and later on by the OGCC,” he said.

New Clark City’s other components include satellite government offices, residential areas, and commercial establishments.

“The long-term plan for these sports facilities goes way beyond the Southeast Asian Games so BCDA was ready to invest in these facilities,” Mr. Dizon said. — Beatrice M. Laforga