House speaker lauds Iloilo City markets PPP deal

(City Hall PIO photos)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Leyte-1st) on Sunday lauded the recent deal of the Iloilo City government with one of the country’s biggest retail companies as an example of how Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) should be pursued by local government units (LGUs).

In a press release, Romualdez supported the call of his cousin, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for more PPPs for LGUs’ projects for infrastructure and services development expansion.

The speaker said that engaging in PPPs would make room for more public projects by LGUs in other vital services, by lessening its expenses for development and maintenance of infrastructure goods and services.

He cited public markets, toll roads, hospitals, irrigation systems, and housing areas as some of the projects that LGUs can engage with the private sector, because such projects would not run out of customers and users.”

“I support the appeal of [Marcos Jr.] for LGUs to get into more PPPs to speed up growth in the regions, which in turn will generate employment and livelihood opportunities for our people,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez lauded the Iloilo City government led by his former colleague, Mayor Jerry Treñas, for the 25-year lease agreement with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) for the redevelopment of the Central and Terminal Markets.

He said that the market projects would benefit thousands of vendors and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Marcos Jr. last week called on LGUs to engage in PPPs to accelerate their economic and social growth in their areas.

“There are plenty of opportunities, especially in infrastructure. […] Local government generally cannot do it by itself. We have to find partners, we have to find local partners, we have to find investors. You’re used to that,” the president told mayors during a meeting of the League of Cities of the Philippines last Tuesday, August 2.

Meanwhile, former Senator Franklin M. Drilon on Sunday echoed President Marcos Jr.’s call for local government units (LGUs) to engage in public-private partnerships (PPP) to pursue further development after the Iloilo City government inked its partnership with a retail giant for the redevelopment of the city’s public markets.

In a press statement, Drilon said LGUs should embark on PPPs and emulate the Iloilo City government led by Mayor Jerry Treñas.

He added that PPPs can help LGUs meet the infrastructure demand and focus their limited resources to finance the much-needed health and social services.

“The LGUs should embark on PPPs. I encourage the private sector to invest in LGUs. Both should take advantage of a more conducive environment for PPPs that we have today,” he said.

“I join the call for more meaningful partnerships between the local government units and the private sector to foster inclusive economic growth, infrastructure and employment. This is the way forward. The private sector plays a vital role in promoting progress and in building critical infrastructure that the people need,” he added.

The city government recently signed a 25-year lease agreement with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) for the redevelopment of the Central Market and Iloilo Terminal Market through its subsidiary, SM Supermalls.

SMPHI has committed around P3 billion to fund the redevelopment without any cost to the city, and is expected to benefit about 2,800 market vendors.

This was SMPHI’s second PPP venture into markets, after the SM Marketmall in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, its partnership with the city government there.

Drilon likewise lauded Treñas for advocating PPPs and expressed support for the redevelopment of the city’s main markets through a PPP.

“It’s about time that we modernize [the Central and Terminal] markets. This initiative bodes well for our efforts to promote Iloilo as a prime tourism destination and as the [meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions] center,” he Drilon.

“I support the project. The whole business community has expressed support for the undertaking,” he added.

Drilon likewise allayed fears of the markets’ legitimate stall holders, citing the assurances made in public by the city mayor that they will not be displaced.

Earlier in the week, both the city mayor and the SMPHI made pronouncements to make sure that not only will vendors be not displaced, but to add more stalls to foster livelihood opportunities for the Ilonggos.