DepEd blocks Wilbert Lee’s plan to build Primark mall inside Binmaley, Pangasinan school property
The Department of Education and Binmaley town are at loggerheads over the municipal government’s request for the Binmaley 1 Central School (B1CES) to allocate part of its property to the country’s biggest community mall builder.
In a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Simplicio Rosario said he could not understand why DepEd turned down the offer of the municipal government for the investor, LKY Development Corp., to build two modern school buildings with three floors each and 16 classrooms.
He said the donation would repace B1CES’s 30- to 40-year-old school buildings.
The Bicol-based LKY group, owned by Bilyonaryo Wilbert Lee, is making the donation in exchange for getting 2,000 to 3,000 square meters of the school property where it planned to build its flagship Primark Mall. Bilyonaryo Henry Sy’s SM Group is a major investor in Primark).
The municipal council has endorsed Primark’s offer in a resolution.
Rosario said the lot occupied by the school is owned by the municipal government per an old tax declaration in the office of the town’s assessor, measuring 16,791 square meters.
However, the school’s vacant area has shrunk following the construction of Magic Mall, the Binmaley Trade and Development Center, and the Binmaley Astrodome.
DepEd Regional Director Alma Ruby Torio said the department rejected the offer because the school site would be cut to less than a third of the property or 5,288 square meters.
With such a small area, Torio said the school would no longer be conducive to learning of the students.
She added it was not consistent with the 2010 Educational Facilities Manual that required school sites to have at least 10,000 square meters in area.
Pangasinan 1 Division Superintendent Marilou Junio-Fernandez agreed with the DepEd and opposed LKY’s offer.
But the Binmaley mayor was not giving up as he planned to ask President Rodrigo Duterte and Education Secretary Leonor Briones to step in.
“I admit it saddens me that DepEd is not supporting our plan to boost the local economy, provide more employment and at the same time build more decent school buildings at no cost to them,” Rosario said.
Noting that it was the municipal government which owned the school lot, Rosario said it was the people of Binmaley who really know what is best for them. (PNA)