Update on the Senate’s Relocation | March 20, 2018

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Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I have the distinct honor and privilege to render a progress report on the relocation of the new Senate building.

Sponsorship speech on the Senate’s relocation
At a Glance: The process of the Senate’s relocation

Late last year, on November 21, 2017, this august chamber adopted PS Resolution No. 293 entitled “RESOLUTION CREATING AN AD HOC COMMITTEE TASKED TO CONDUCT A FEASIBILITY STUDY ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW SENATE BUILDING AND RELOCATION OF THE SENATE THERETO,” filed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, and thereafter voted for the transfer of the Senate to a parcel of land located at the Navy Village, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

In addition, this body has bestowed upon the Committee on Accounts the task of pursuing the relocation and overseeing the eventual construction of the Senate’s new home.

Mr. President, it is no secret that some may have misgivings about this decade-old plan to relocate the Senate. The walls and corners of our present building attest to the qualms of some who murmur or think out loud: “Hanggang plano lamang naman yang Senate relocation” or “Hindi rin naman matutuloy yan tulad noong mga nakaraang taon.”

Mr. President, humbly I stand here today to update all of you on the work that we have undertaken as a testament that we take the matter of realizing this long-time dream very seriously.

Right after this chamber has approved the transfer, members of my staff and that of the Office of the Senate Legal Counsel, started the negotiation between the Senate and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would pave the way for the lot purchase for the future site of the new Senate building.

Also, as part of our sincere effort to make sure that what was approved by this body would be carried out, this representation proposed the allocation of PhP1.5 billion, which was readily endorsed by the chair of the Committee of Finance, the Hon. Loren Legarda, for the relocation of the Senate under the 2018 General Appropriations Act.

On January 3, 2018, the Senate, through the Senate President, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, officially signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the BCDA on the former’s intention to acquire and purchase 18,320 square meters of land at the Navy Village Property, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Under the said MOU, the Senate was given the option to purchase the BCDA property within one year, subject to the obligation of the latter to relocate the current occupants, with not more than P90,000 per square meter as purchase price.

Considering that the construction of a Senate building requires technical capacity for such kind of project, for which the Senate has no capability, this representation sought the assistance of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), through Secretary Mark Villar. Thus, the Bureau of Design of the DPWH, through OIC-Director Lea N. Delfinado, reached out to our office to extend a helping hand in the implementation of this project. Also, Secretary Villar gave the DPWH’s assurance, in his letter-reply dated March 7, 2018, that it will assist the Senate in the realization of its vision of having a new and permanent home.

On the part of the BCDA, having signed the MOU, it created a team that would not only negotiate the Contract to Sell but would also assist the Senate every step of the way as we embark towards acquiring and constructing our own building.

Thus, on January 23, 2018, our Office called for its first coordination meeting with the BCDA and the DPWH. Also present in the said meeting were the Senate Legal Counsel and the Maintenance and General Services Bureau of the Senate.

During the said meeting, our technical team presented the Project Road Map for the Senate Relocation. After the discussion, both the BCDA and the DPWH agreed that the proposed timetable was doable.

Mr. President, allow me now to present the Project Road Map for the Senate Relocation.

It is composed of five major stages:

Project Planning and Land Acquisition
Conceptual Design
Procurement of Design and Build Package
Construction and Commissioning
Procurement and Installation of Fixtures

The first stage is Project Planning and Land Acquisition.

The stage that we are presently in is the Project Planning and Land Acquisition. It runs for three months from January to March, which basically sets things down and plans the course of the entire project up to its completion. All the preliminary activities are being made and coordinated during this stage.

Simultaneously, in coordination with the BCDA, we are formalizing the acquisition of the land where we will relocate and build the new building.

The second stage is the Conceptual Design Development Stage, which runs from February to June.

Mr. President, my dear colleagues, if you will recall when we presented the Committee Report before this chamber last November 21, this body agreed with this representation that indeed the Senate deserves an iconic structure that relives the great lessons of history, represents the dignity of this independent institution, and consecrates the values of a truly democratic legislature.

That said, let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the BCDA. As part of our negotiation for the purchase of the site for our new building and to pave the way for the building phase of this project, the BCDA rolled out the search for the Conceptual Design of the new Senate Building.

May I reiterate that we have closed the first 100 years of the Senate on October 16, 2016, and last year, we started our course for the next centenary. Thus, I could not think of a more fitting recognition and legacy than to provide this institution with its own dignified home.

On that account, we launched on February 14, 2018 the Global Conceptual Design Competition for the new home of the Philippine Senate with the theme: Bagong Senado sa ikalawang Siglo.

Perusal of the website will show its viewers the rich history of the Philippine Senate through the different buildings that served as its previous homes and the iconic parliamentary landmarks around the world which serve as inspiration for our own.

More importantly, our website lays down the key details of the competition, specifically the mechanics, design parameters, and timelines. One may also find a virtual board of relevant announcements, resources, frequently asked questions and complete contact information.

Mr. President, I believe it is worthy to note that this website is a product of the Senate’s own homegrown talents. This project is the fruit of the collaboration of the members of my staff, the social media team of the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau, Print Media Service, and Electronic Data Processing and Management Information System Bureau.

At this point, allow me to briefly elaborate on the fundamental details of the two phases of the competition.

This morning, we have just officially closed the first phase of the Conceptual Design Competition.

Under this phase, we issued a call for the participation to all technically competent firms, local and international, to register their interest to take part in the design competition. There was a total of 40 firms that registered, composed of 16 local and 24 foreign firms.

After the closing of submission, the Selection Committee, with representatives both from the Senate and the BCDA, conducted a technical working group session to vet and rank the participating firms into a shorter list of 10 firms.

The technical working group based their evaluation on the following:

Personnel and firm and projects. Under personnel, they considered Technical and Professional Capabilities of Key Personnel and gave it 40%. It includes:

Relevant Professional License/Certificates/AccreditationOverall Relevant Work Experience
Number of Completed Similar Projects
Awards and Citation

Under firm and projects, which is given 60%:

Relevant Experiences
Years of Business Operation
Green Building Design
Awards and Citation

Based on their evaluation, the Selection Panel, composed of Senators Tito Sotto, Gringo Honasan, Ralph Recto, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Nancy Binay, BCDA Chairman Gregorio Garcia, BCDA President Vivencio Dizon and this representation, as Chair, selected the five shortlisted firms qualified to come up with their respective conceptual designs.

With the indulgence of everyone, let me now present to this body the final list of five firms and their descriptions:

  1. AECOM
  2. Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
  3. Henning Larsen Architects
  4. Leeser
  5. Aidea

Distinguished colleagues, let me be clear that the firms presented are not in any order of preference.

Having selected the five finalists, we are now on the second phase of the Conceptual Design Competition. We set the deadline for the submission of their conceptual designs on May 18, 2018.

Mr. President, members of the majority as well as the minority blocs of this Chamber, let me take this opportunity to request the presence of your representatives on April 04, 2018 for the briefing of the final five firms.

This is our opportunity to articulate the vision that we want mirrored in the designs that the five shortlisted firms will be submitting. This is also our chance to communicate to the firms the functions of this chamber and the needs which the designs should address.

In addition, members of the Secretariat, particularly the Senate Secretary, Senate Legal Counsel, Sergeant-at-Arms, Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance, Deputy Secretary for Legislation, and other officers would as well be invited in the said April 4th briefing. We will be sending out formal letters of invitation in this regard.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, the designs of the five shortlisted firms shall be evaluated by a Technical Evaluation Committee composed of the technical staff from the Senate, BCDA, DPWH, and experts from the following organizations:

United Architects of the Philippines (UAP)
Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE)
Philippine Green Building Council
Philippine Institute of Interior Designers
Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners
National Commission for Culture and Arts

The shortlisted firms shall present their conceptual designs to the Senate Committee on Accounts and the Senate President, who will compose the board of judges, on May 28, 2018 at 9 a.m. the venue will be communicated a week before the event. The winning firm will be announced and presented for confirmation by this chamber on the same day. The firm with the winning design will have the opportunity to undertake the detailed architectural design of the project upon successful selection of the design and build contractor for the development of the new Senate building.

The New Senate Building, Mr. President, must be green, secure, functional, and iconic. The Senate of the Philippines having recently celebrated its first centennial, our vision is to provide a design that will symbolize the Senate for what it stands for, a design that will become a landmark for the Filipino people, and a design that can take the Senate of the Philippines to the next 100 more years and beyond.

As part of our due diligence, Mr. President, we requested the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to conduct an appraisal on the subject Navy Village property. On February 22, 2018, the DBP communicated to us the result of its appraisal, which confirms that the purchase price being negotiated is way below its appraised value.

On the same day, this representation communicated to BCDA President Dizon the intention of the Senate to exercise the option under the MOU and presented the terms of payment in order to formally commence the negotiation. Thus, formal negotiation for the Contract to Sell is ongoing. The BCDA already requested the Government Corporate Counsel to review the draft Contract to Sell.

Further, as part of due diligence, we also requested for a hazard assessment from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). In its report, dated March 2, 2018, the Phivolcs indicated that the site where the new Senate building will rise is approximately three kilometers west of the West Valley Fault and is thus safe from earthquake-induced landslide. The report also indicated that that the property is moderately susceptible to liquefaction.

As stated by Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. through official communication (dated March 15, 2018), the liquefaction hazard was drawn from 1:5,000 scale, a geotechnical investigation is needed to establish site-specific susceptibility. Usec. Solidum, however, explained that the structure can be properly designed and constructed to prevent or mitigate liquefaction effects.

To establish a better understanding of the soil properties on-site, a geotechnical investigation was conducted. The process classified and tested the soil type to be very dense soil and soft rock, down to a depth of 15 meters.

The report outlined the parameters needed for the selection and design of the foundation system of the project.

Also, part of our due diligence, Mr. President, is the conduct of relocation and topographic surveys. The survey results verified the accuracy of the lot coordinates and elevations provided by BCDA and established the property benchmarks necessary for the construction phase.

Going even further, Mr. President, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has informed us that the maximum Allowable Top Elevation (above mean sea level) is 67 meters. That is about 20 floors in building height.

At this point, we move to the third stage of the Project Road Map.

Mr. President, as agreed with the DPWH officials led by Assistant Director Edwin Matanguihan and Engr. Jesus Oba, their agency would oversee the construction of the new Senate building. To date, the DPWH has already submitted to the Senate a draft Memorandum of Agreement, now under review by the Senate Legal Counsel.

As part of its responsibilities, the DPWH will prepare the Bidding Documents for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction Package. Again, considering that the Senate has no proficiency nor capability to undertake the procurement of the Design and Build package, we will request the DPWH to conduct the public bidding for and in our behalf. The DPWH will also cover the Project Monitoring and Management of the construction phase.

Mr. President, the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction will be bidded out as one package. This is to save time and to make sure that the contractor will be able to implement the detailed architectural and engineering design seamlessly. It should as well be noted, as I stated a while ago, that the Conceptual Design shall be used by the winning contractor and the winning firm shall have an opportunity to work with the contractor.

The preparation of the Bidding Documents for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction is from March to July of this year. We expect that the Tender of Bids will be on the same month of July. Thus, we are hopeful that the contract for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction will be awarded by the last quarter of this year.

Mr. President, (if) the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction will be awarded to the winning bidder this year, the Construction and Commissioning phase or the fourth stage of the Project Road Map, can start next year. Thus, we are looking on a timeline of two years for the construction of the new Senate Building or from January 2019 to December 2020.

In order to make sure that the new Senate building will be ready come 2021, we will commence the procurement of furniture, fixtures and equipment during the last quarter of 2019. We expect that the supply and installation of the items will be made on the second quarter of 2020. This will be the fifth and last stage of the Project Road Map.

Mr. President, if our project of constructing a new and dignified home will not encounter any major setback or delay, we are hopeful that the Philippine Senate will open the Third Regular Session of the 18th Congress in its new building in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Mr. President, as I have emphasized exactly four months ago, the plan of constructing the Senate its permanent building will be just another “cycle” if we do not take even an inch of movement.

As somebody once said: “without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that: intentions.”

The endeavor of constructing a new Senate home, OUR home, is not an easy task.

Mr. President, with our current progress, I say that our intention, shared even with past Congresses, is finally shaping into reality.

This will not be a single person or a single Committee’s bequest. This will be the legacy of the Centennial Senators – tayo po yun Mr. President – of the 17th Congress. This is our legacy.

Finally I will be remiss in my duty of presenting the committee’s update this afternoon lest I recognize the men and women who diligently and tirelessly worked behind the scene and will continue to do so to make our common dream a reality. May I therefore acknowledge them:

Atty. Louie Martinez, Atty. Marlon Mercado, Engr. William Hong, Ms. Inna Villamar, Jen and Claudyn, all from my Senate office staff;

Atty. Ma. Valentina Santana-Cruz, Senate legal counsel;

Atty. Daniel Salomon, the Senate President’s Chief of Staff;

Atty. Arnel Jose S. Banas, deputy secretary for administration and financial services;

And from the BCDA: Engr. Marinel Paclibar, Daryl Garcia, Mark Torres, Attys. Richie Paclibar, Lea Maligaya, Ms. Marie Therese Cimafranca, Donald Tolentino;

And other individuals who have chosen to remain nameless in this endeavor.

Thank you very much.


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