CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- A House committee has moved to summon former Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) general manager Mark Lapid to appear before the congressional inquiry on the sale of the Philippine Christmas Village (Paskuhan) to Premier Central Incorporated.
The move came after Lapid failed to appear before the committee on good government and public accountability for three consecutive meetings.
Representative Romeo Acop moved to have Lapid issued a subpoena to shed further clarification on the said sale.
The committee, chaired by Surigao del Sur second district Representative Johnny Pimentel, had been looking into the contentious issues of the sale.
Cebu third district Representative Gwendolyn Fiel Garcia questioned Tieza's new general manager, Pocholo Paragas, for using the same argument in selling Paskuhan when there were clear provisions under Republic Act 9593 on the right of first refusal.
Section 54 of the law said that “the Tieza, in coordination with the Privatization Council, shall determine which assets shall be put up for sale or lease: Provided, that concerned LGUs [local government units] interested to manage and operate said assets shall have the right of first refusal.”
Third district Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and the members of the house panel are against the sale of the property.
Gonzales for one had called to rescind the sale and bring back the property back to the government.
The Pampanga lawmaker said the next hearing will bring other issues to light as other stakeho
Members of the committee during the first hearing found questionable the decision of Tieza to proceed with the sale when there was only one bidder.
The Christmas village theme park -- later renamed to Hilaga -- was sold to Premiere by Tieza for P939 million as part of its assets privatization thrust.
Paskuhan is one of the 13 government-owned properties under Tieza that have been eyed for privatization.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on May 24, 2017.
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