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The façade of the Metropolitan Theater in Arroceros, Manila. (Itoh Son)

Questions raised on plan to bid out the Met

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By Riza Lozada

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) set a minimum bid price of P267.15 million for the 7,633.1-square-meter Metropolitan Theater (the Met), a price which barely matched what the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) said was needed just for the rehabilitation of the heritage structure.

The Market Monitor, however, found that the GSIS, in 2013, offered acquired assets with minimum bid prices that would suggest the price set for the Met was too low, considering its national prominence in culture and heritage, as well as its location in the heart of Manila.

The GSIS offered two lots in Fort Bonifacio measuring 1,600 square meters each and with a minimum bid price of P520 million for each lot. The appraisal and bidding were announced in 2014.

The GSIS bid invitation released in August 2014 indicated that Fort Bonifacio 7-3 located in 25th Street south corner 6th Ave., South Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City with TCT 164-2010000864 and total area of 1,600 sqm on offer for a minimum bid price of P520 million.

Another lot, Fort Bonifacio 7-4 at 25th Street south corner 7th Ave., South Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City with TCT 2360-P and total area of 1,600 on offer for a minimum bid price of P520 million.

The GSIS listed the Met as one of its real properties with location in Antonio Villegas (Arroceros) St., corner P. Burgos and Dr. Basa Sts. Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila.  It has a total area of 7,633.1 sqm.

The P267.15 million price set for the heritage theater could only match the P250 million valuation that former Senator Manuel Villar incorporated in his sponsored resolution during the 14th Congress.

Villar’s P250 million valuation did not pertain to the minimum bid price for the sale of the Met but to the amount needed for the full restoration of the property.

The resolution sought to gain private and public support to bring back the historical and architectural value of the Met.

Based on the resolution filed by Villar, its said, “after a long-running dispute on the issue of its ownership and management between the GSIS and the city government of Manila, a tripartite agreement (effective for 22 years), was signed with the NCCA in 2004.”

Former President Gloria Arroyo ordered the allocation of P50-million through NCCA for the partial rehabilitation of the Met, P6 million of which were earmarked for feasibility and engineering studies, while P44 million went to City Hall, which is in charge of the actual restoration work.

Then-Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim committed to restoring the theater, saying, “it is high time that the city government revive efforts to restore the old Metropolitan Theater to its old grandeur.”

Lim created a six-man committee that will study the efforts, to be co-chaired by former Kapisanan ng mga Artista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (KAPP) President German Moreno and Lim’s chief-of-staff, Ric de Guzman; Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, as vice chairman, and Councilor Edward Maceda, Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez and historian Ambeth Ocampo as members.

It was estimated that P250 million was needed for the full restoration of the theater.

The Senate committees on education, arts and culture, local government were urged to inquire, in aid of legislation, into the status of the renovation of the Met.

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