01 Mar 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
DEPARTMENT of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Concepcion Teregeyo said the concerns raised by Rep. Alice Igitol regarding IT&E’s proposed land lease extension have already been addressed by the Senate and House joint committee and by DPL itself.
IT&E’s initial lease of 25 years has already expired and it is now exercising its option to extend the lease for another 15 years. The proposal is being reviewed by the House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Igitol.
Igitol said they cannot approve the lease agreement in its current form unless some issues are resolved. These include the lack of gross receipts and an appraisal report.
But Teregeyo said the Senate and the House joint committee already conditionally approved the renewal in the presence of IT&E management.
For its part, DPL already addressed the concerns mentioned by Igitol on three separate occasions, Teregeyo said: one was during a joint committee meeting in the Senate chamber; second was during a House leadership meeting; and third during a meeting with Igitol in her office early this month.
Teregeyo said DPL will address the concerns again for the fourth time. But she added that should the Legislature prefer that new terms be included in the agreement with IT&E, it can only be done through a new lease.
“In other words, it cannot be within the context of an extension or renewal. The Legislature’s alternative and sole remedy would be to reject the proposed renewal. Should this occur, DPL would then entertain a new lease with [IT&E] on terms based on regulations (assuming [IT&E] would be interested with those terms),” Teregeyo said in a recent nine-page letter to Igitol.
Regarding the lack of gross receipt, Teregeyo said the original lease included a percentage of BGR component or rent, but the original lease was amended in 2006 to exclude it.
“In other words, it was taken out before the lease’s expiration date, which we have clearly and repeatedly explained to you and the House legal counsel, Mr. Joe Taijeron. We have been advised by the Attorney General’s Office that the lease as amended is the document to follow because the proposed renewals are a continuation of existing leases not to exceed 40 years and it was partly DPL’s fault for not addressing the extension in 2015 as requested by [IT&E] prior to the expiration of the lease.”
Teregeyo added, “We believe we have done our due diligence within the parameters advised by the AG and the expired lease as amended. [IT&E] was never charged a percentage of BGR from inception when the lease required it through 2006 when the lease was amended…. You failed to hear what we have repeatedly said that this is a legal issue and DPL cannot make changes. Although your legal counsel may think otherwise, may I remind you that it is the AG’s signature on the lease for review and that DPL has done its due diligence.”
In general, Teregeyo said DPL doesn’t have the legal authority to make changes and the reason why the contract agreement with IT&E was unsigned is because DPL cannot sign a lease without the approval of the Legislature.
“We have attached written communication from the Attorney General’s Office for your reference. We have additionally understood that all other members of your committee have no objections to DPL’s submission. In fact, your committee seems to be conflicting itself by approving the two other renewals which contain similar provisions as the renewal agreement of [IT&E] like the language of renewal extension which also exists in the CMS and Bank of Guam land lease renewals but those were approved. I hope I have adequately addressed your concerns. To be clear, DPL cannot insert BGR rent in these renewals. The only way to do this would be to grant a new lease to [IT&E] which would entail the Legislature rejecting the proposed renewal agreement.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102598-official-senate-house-dpl-have-addressed-igitol-s-concerns