Update on the Senate’s Relocation | Feb. 4, 2019

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, a year ago, we embarked on a journey to realize a decades-old dream of having our own Senate Building. We sealed the deal when this august chamber approved the transfer of the Senate to the Navy Village, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

I stand here today not only with a renewed confidence in that dream, but also with a clearer picture of it, complete, quite literally, with detailed plans.

As an overview, Mr. President, last year, in May 2018, we marked a significant breakthrough as we have finally confirmed the winning design of the new Philippine Senate building. If you recall, after careful review and evaluation by the Technical Evaluation Committee, BCDA officials, the Senators of the 17th Congress, and the Senate Community, we reached a decision in choosing the design that best represents the honor, dignity, and legacy of this independent institution.

Mr. President, at this point, allow me to share how we are moving forward by providing you with our recent milestones, projected timeline, and ongoing activities.

With our chosen conceptual design, the Committee proceeded to work hand in hand with the different stakeholders to come up with the schematic design, a more complete and realistic version of the winning conceptual plan. With the schematic plans, we were able to detail the costs and specifications of the structure with enough confidence to enable us to bid it out, through the assistance of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), for a design-and-build contract.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, here are the salient points of the Senate Relocation Project and key components of the design-and-build Terms of Reference:

1. The approved Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) of the project is P8.9 billion, which covers the core and shell of the building. This refers to the overall base structure and external components of the building. The final Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) amounts to P8.6 billion. The interior fit-outs are to follow separately. The per-square-meter cost of the facility is calculated to be within the prevailing costs of similar projects handled by the DPWH.

2. The bidding is a two-staged process, technical and then financial, to make sure that the prospective contractors are not only capable but also responsive to our requirements.

3. The proposals should be based on the winning conceptual plan prepared by AECOM, the designated firm to conduct the detailed architectural design of the building in partnership with the winning contractor moving forward.

4. The minimum Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) license requirement for participating contractors would be “Triple A” (AAA), a decent standard to ensure that only capable firms are selected to take on the job.

5. The building should be at least three-star green building certified. This requirement provides a clear statement that we mean it when we say that through this facility, we will inspire our nation to be resource-efficient and environmentally responsible. Our goal is to become the first Philippine institutional building to be world-class green-certified. Basically, it is “go green or go home.”

6. Based on the DPWH evaluation, the stated construction schedule is 40 months, starting this year until 2022. I do realize, Mr. President, that I promised that we will have the opening of the 18th Congress by 2021 at this new facility. I want to assure you that this target is still within reach as we carry out ways to fast-track the project and design it to be completed in strategic phases which I will detail afterwards.

About this time last year, Mr. President, what we had was a blank canvas. But through and through, we made sure that our canvas is filled with concrete details that will translate our vision to reality.

To further illustrate how far we have come, we are proud to say that last November 1, 2018, the bidding of our project, with Contract ID 18Z00036 – Construction of the New Senate Building, commenced through its public announcement. The pre-bid conference shortly followed on November 13, 2018 at the DPWH Central Office.

Two weeks later, we conducted a site inspection to let the bidders have a better appreciation of the project location and its present conditions. Eventually, a total of eight high-caliber bidders purchased the bid documents, signifying their intent to tackle the project.

On January 22, 2019, after two months of preparations, two bids were submitted, which were then evaluated by the Bids and Awards Committee starting with their technical proposals.

Last Thursday, January 31, the financial proposals were finally opened. One of the two bidders was assessed as technically qualified and is now undergoing a post-qualification process.

As we are now armed with the detailed plans, the budget, and the people to execute our vision in sight, allow me to present to you the phase-by-phase construction schedule we are targeting for the project:

1. We expect the winning contractor to immediately mobilize this year; excavation and construction of basement levels will take place on the first half of 2019.

2. The completion of the sub-structure until the ground level is expected by the end of this year.

3. The podium level which includes the session hall, key facilities, and function rooms, is to be completed by the first half of 2020.

4. The east tower, which can accommodate 12 of the 24 senators, will rise on the second half of 2020.

5. The west tower will then follow by the first half of 2021, thereby completing our 24 senator offices and the main session hall in time for the opening of the 18th Congress, as promised.

6. The north tower, which houses the executive offices, will follow in the second half of 2021.

7. And finally, the south tower, designated for the Senate secretariat and support institutions, will be completed by the first half of 2022, thereby capping off our phase-by-phase project plan.

To ascertain that we meet our targets, Mr. President, I would like to underscore our ongoing activities:

* As I speak, the BCDA and the Navy are conducting site clearing activities to remove existing structures and transfer the occupants in order to ensure that our lot is indeed ready for construction. I personally visited the site last week and I am encouraged by their progress. In relation to this, I was earlier informed by BCDA that they have recently awarded the contract to construct the main boulevard as part of their commitment to provide the Senate with proper access.

* We are also coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the concerned LGUs, and other agencies to guarantee that our site clearing and excavation permits, environmental clearances, and other relevant preliminary requirements will be ready ahead of time. Just last week, we completed the tree-charting activity with the assistance of DENR as part of our requirements.

* We also noted a recent update from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) of their plans to establish a subway station near the vicinity of our facility. We are currently coordinating with them to make sure that this proposal further enhances the value and functionality of our Senate building.

* And finally, our team is continuously advancing the detailed design phase by reviewing the schematic plans and working with the designer and stakeholders. Allow me to take this opportunity to inform the different offices of the Secretariat and Senators’ offices to our space planning coordination meeting scheduled this coming February 6, 2019 (Wednesday) at 10:00 in the morning. Your participation in the planning process will ensure that this facility is truly a vision shared by all.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, a few months ago, we laid out a five-stage roadmap to realize this project. Starting with planning, conceptual design, bidding, construction, and finally commissioning. We are about to complete the third stage of the process, and I must say that the task is not without challenges.

So far, we are hitting the right notes and we are timed to the beat.

As the Committee shares these updates, we also reiterate our commitment in pursuing with best effort the plans we have set to realize a green, secure, functional, and iconic New Senate Building we can all be proud of.

Thank you, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues.