Duterte chief legal counsel recommends review of Ayala-UP Technohub deal

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2020 01:54 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2020 04:31 PM

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo speaks at a news conference in Manila. Panelo said on Jan. 21, 2020 that he would seek a review of a lease deal between the University of the Philippines and Ayala Land. Yancy Lim, Presidential Photo/FILE

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte's chief legal counsel said Tuesday he would seek a review of a lease deal between the University of the Philippines and Ayala Land as he claimed that a rough estimate showed that the government might be on the losing end.

Salvador Panelo, also Duterte's spokesman, said he would recommend to the President a government review of the 37-hectare UP Technohub lease deal to see if the government was incurring losses.

"Irerekomenda ko sa Presidente na imbestigahan yung alegasyon kung totoong lugi ang gobyerno," Panelo said in a phone interview.

(I would recommend to the President to investigate allegations that the government is on the losing end)

Panelo's call for a review came after he said he read a "study" on the internet that claimed the land was leased for less than P20 per square meter.

"Ang sinasabi ko, kung totoo lahat yun, we need to make serious study kung totoo lahat ng alegasyon," he said.

(If those things are true then we need to make serious study to see if the allegations are real.)

Ayala Land on Monday belied the claims, saying the state university would receive a total value of P171 per square meter per month during the duration of the 25-year contract for a total of P10.23 billion.

The amount was derived from the P4.23 billion in lease payments and P6 billion investment in 16 commercial buildings, Ayala Land said.

"Kung ang statement nila less than P10.4 billion plus 25 years and only 16 commercial buildings eh talagang lugi. Yun ang klaro," he said.

(If their statement is true that they will pay less than P10.4 billion plus 25 years and only 16 commercial buildings then we're really at a loss. That's clear.)

"Sobrang ang laki ng kita nila," he added.

(They are earning too much)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday the UP Technohub lease deal was "casually mentioned" during a meeting on the government's review of the water concession contracts with another Ayala-owned firm, Manila Water, and Maynilad.

"We (DOJ) have not been directed to review that lease contract as yet I understand that UP is doing its own internal review," Guevarra told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

President Duterte earlier this month promised to "correct" all government contracts before he steps down from office in 2022.

The chief executive said he ordered the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice to check all of government's existing contracts.

"All contracts that are prejudicial to the Filipino people will be corrected. 'Yan ang maaasahan mo (you can expect that), within the limited time left for me in office, sabi ko, I will correct everything, including contracts that are not to the best interest of the Filipino people," Duterte said.