By MARIO CASAYURAN
The construction of a new, iconic Senate building has been approved unanimously by the Upper House for future generations of legislators and the Filipino people.
The estimated P4.58 billion cost of the four-building, six-story Senate will make legislators appreciative of a landmark that will symbolize Philippine culture, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson is chairman of the Senate accounts committee that was mandated to effect the transfer of the current Senate building to a new one.
“I based (my) figure (P4.58 billion project cost as submitted by AECOM) on facts; Mr. (Rigoberto) Tiglao based his on opinion, and said ‘Basta’ with an exclamation point. Pray tell me if it’s worth arguing with him,’’ Lacson said of Tiglao’s P10 billion estimate of the transfer cost.
Tiglao had maintained that the Senate has an expensive taste and that the billions of pesos for its new building is better off used to improve the Philippine-claimed Spratly island or other social service projects such as hospitals.
“For the longest time, the Senate has been renting the use of its building from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and its parking lot from the Social Security System (SSS). For nearly 20 years, it has been paying rental fees worth P127 million per year or P2.24 billion,’’ he said.
Lacson stressed that the cost of the Senate’s lease payments to GSIS and SSS have become enough to construct a permanent, iconic home for the Senate.
“More importantly, this project is not for me or any member of the present Senate in the 17th Congress, but for the future generations of legislators and the Filipino people, just like the other iconic landmarks built by our forefathers that continue to symbolize our culture,’’ he stressed.
Lacson said the Senate is entering its second century and “we still don’t have a building we can call our own.’’
The new building will be built at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig city in a less than two-hectare lot bought from the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
Lacson said that the Senate has already given P500 million as down payment to BCDA and the rest would be paid in installment basis in 10 years, still with a grace period.