After 17 years, construction of Senate building moves forward
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate’s transfer to its new “iconic” building in Taguig has moved forward, as the chamber and the Bases Conversion Development Authority inked a memorandum of understanding paving the way for the lot purchase.
If all goes well, the opening of congressional session in 2021 would be held in the new building, which is eyed to be comparable to the United States Capitol, Germany’s Reichstag, and the Palace of Westminster, among other global landmarks.
Senate accounts committee chair Panfilo Lacson said in his speech on Tuesday, March 20, that "the New Senate Building 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," Lacson said.
"This will be a legacy of the centennial senators – tayo po 'yun (that's us) – of the 17th Congress. This is our legacy," he added.
Lacson said that if there would be no major setbacks or delays in the construction of the Senate's new home, "we are hopeful that the Philippine Senate will open the 3rd regular session of the 18th Congress in the new building."
Lacson said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and the BCDA already signed an MOU on January 3, 2018, indicating the Senate’s intention to purchase the 18,320-square meter lot at the Navy Village property in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
The project – done in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways, BCDA, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, among others – has an allotted budget of P1.5 billion in the 2018 national budget.
“Under the said MOU, the Senate was given the option to purchase the BCDA property within one year...with not more than P90,000 per square meter as purchase price," Lacson said.
The Senate has been paying rent to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for use of its current building, and the use of the parking lot to the Social Security System (SSS) since 1996, amounting to P2.24 billion.
Proposals to transfer the Senate was first made under the leadership of then Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr 17 years ago but to no avail.
The project has 5 stages – planning and land acquisition, conceptual design, procurement of design and build package, construction and commissioning, and procurement and installment of fixtures.
Lacson said the project is still in the first stage but is on its way to the second.
Lacson said there are already 5 shortlisted design firms: Aecom, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Henning Larsen Architects, Leeser Architecture, and Aedia. The winning design firm would be announced on May 28.
The 3rd stage consists of the bidding for the contractor that would handle the detailed architectural and engineering design and construction, which Lacson hopes would be finalized by last quarter of 2018.
The start of the construction is eyed by January 2019, to take two years or until December 2020. It would then be followed by the last step, the purchase and installation of fixtures. – Rappler.com