Senators OK transfer of Senate to Fort Bonifacio by 2020

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senators on Tuesday, November 21, approved the transfer of the Senate from its current location in Pasay City to Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on accounts, asked his colleagues to vote on the next site of relocation – either Taguig or Antipolo City – in his sponsorship speech.

The senators voted 14-2 in favor of BGC. Among those present, only Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros voted in favor of Antipolo.

Prior to the vote, Lacson presented survey results that showed most employees are living in Metro Manila and Cavite. The polls also showed that nearly 67% of respondents prefer Fort Bonifacio.

Lacson said the Senate has been paying rent to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for use of its current building, and the use of parking lot from the Social Security System (SSS) since 1996, which has amounted to P2.24 billion.

Lacson said the amount could have been used to construct an “iconic, permanent Senate building” like the United States Capitol, Germany’s Reichstag, and the Palace of Westminster, among others.

“These buildings are known globally not only for their architectural brilliance, but also for their just representation of the dignity of the parliaments that they house - something, which all of us in this august chamber will surely agree, is also fitting for the Senate of the Republic of Philippines,” Lacson said.

Lacson said it is high time to make the Senate relocation a reality, noting that the proposal was first made under the leadership of then Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr 17 years ago.

“Lots of proposals were conceptualized since then, but unfortunately, none of such has materialized to this day. Marahil, panahon na upang isakatuparan ang pangarap at lagyan na ng kulay ang drawing (Perhaps it is time to realise the dream and put color in the drawing),” Lacson said.

Antipolo vs Taguig

The Senate accounts committee earlier considered two possible locations: Antipolo and Taguig.

Antipolo City Mayor Casimiro Ynares III has expressed willingness to donate to the Senate 25 hectares of land located along the Marikina Infanta Road in Barangay San Jose as a possible site of the new Senate complex.

Since it’s for free, there would be no land acquisition cost on the part of the Senate. It will, however, cost the chamber P4,000 per square meter for land development on a flat, clear terrain.

The City of Antipolo is eyeing a 4-year timeline before the Senate can fully occupy the proposed Senate Building: 6 months for design development phase, one year for land development phase, two-and-a-half years for the construction phase.

The second option is the creation of a building in a 20,000-square-meter or two-hectare parcel of land owned by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) at the former Navy Village, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Lacson said the agreement being proposed by the BCDA is in the nature of an Option Contract, amounting to an estimated P1.8 billion

“With the property being valued at P90,000 per square meter, the total cost of acquiring the 20,000-square meter property being offered by the BCDA will be P1.8 billion, which would be payable in 10, possibly more years,” Lacson said.

The BCDA, in a previous committee hearing, said they are eyeing the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Senate between October to November 2017 and the construction of the building by third quarter 2018. If all goes well, it would be finished by third quarter of 2020. – Rappler.com