Managaha mess laid at BPL doorstep

Posted on Nov 27 1998

A group of local investors has criticized the Board of Public Land for dragging its feet in deciding the next franchise holder of Managaha Island which it said should be blamed for the controversies haunting the bidding for the tourist resort.

“This would not be much controversial had the Board of Public Land made its decision a long time ago,” according to JM Guerrero, president of Marianas Marine Management, Inc., one of the companies seeking rights to run Managaha.

According to Guerrero, as early as July the policy-making body has sought proposals to operate Managaha Island because the lease agreement of Japanese-owned Tasi Tours was to expire in September.

Five other firms have submitted plans to develop the popular tourist destination namely Pacific Development, Inc., Managaha Island Trust Corporation, Tasi Tours, Robert J. Emmett and Saipan Marine Tours – another local company.

The board is yet to decide who will take over Tasi Tours, which has been holding the $4 million franchise deal for the last eight years.

“If the board acted on it in August or September we would not be having these problems,” Guerrero said, referring to controversies spawned by the Legislature’s override of the governor’s veto on a measure favoring NMI descent to develop Managaha.

Companies bidding for the multi-million lease contract accused Guerrero, a prominent supporter of Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio in last year’s gubernatorial elections and business partner of the commonwealth leader’s son, Michael, of pushing the legislation to win the project – allegations which he denied.

In a previous interview, Michael dismissed insinuations that he used his influence to persuade lawmakers to set aside his father’s veto.

The law has worried the business community over its potential impact on their participation in future project.

BPL Chairman Tomas B. Aldan said the override would further push back the awarding of concession rights until the board’s legal counsel determines whether the legislation violates the policy-making body’s fiduciary responsibilities.

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