House committee starts inquiry on Mactan airport bidder

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


QUEZON CITY - Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) told a House committee on Wednesday that it will complete its investigation on the top bidder of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) project by the end of the month.

The House Committee on Transportation is conducting an inquiry on GMR Infrastructure Ltd., the India-based partner of Megawide Construction Corp., amid allegations it is involved in irregularities in its other projects.

But Rep. Edgar Erice (Caloocan City, second district) expressed reservations about the inquiry.

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“Mr. Chairman, I am in a quandary whether at this point we are unnecessarily intervening in the job of the DOTC and giving undue influence on the PBAC (Pre-Bidding and Awards Committee of the DOTC),” Erice said.

Legislative hearing
MANILA. Cebu City north district Representative Raul del Mar said the inquiry on the highest bidder in the P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport expansion project shows that legislators are responding to issues raised against GMR Infrastructure Ltd. With del Mar are TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza (left) and House Committee on Transportation chair Rep. Cesar Sarmiento.(Photo by JC Cahinhinan)


He said the House should leave the matter to the DOTC-PBAC, which is more technically capable of verifying the project.

But Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City north district) said the inquiry in aid of legislation must go on because the charges against GMR are serious and the public should not be made to think the legislators don’t care.

“I think we are here really to influence the PBAC and DOTC to act immediately so the project will not be delayed further,” he said.

Del Mar got the support of Trade Union Congress Party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza, also from Cebu.

Allegations

The allegations against GMR were raised by Filinvest Land Inc., which made the second highest bid for the P17.5-billion MCIA modernization and privatization project.

The House committee inquiry was launched upon the request of Del Mar and Reps. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, fourth district), Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City south district), Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu Province, second district), Joseph Ace Durano (Cebu Province, fifth district), Aileen Radaza (Lapu-Lapu City lone district) and Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu Province, third district).

The inquiry was launched a day before House of Representatives takes a recess. The House will resume session on May 5.

Garcia, Salimbangon and Durano assured the House committee that the resolution requesting for an inquiry is not meant to influence the PBAC’s decision but to assess the bidding process.

Reasons

The Cebuano solons cited different reasons for requesting the inquiry.

Salimbangon said that the DOTC’s requirements on the MCIA project seem insufficient for a multi-billion-peso undertaking. He said Congress needs to pass a legislation setting separate standards for major projects.

“It is not good that the requirements in the bidding of a schoolbuilding project are the same as those set for the airport project that cost billions of pesos,” he said.

Abellanosa, on the other hand, questioned how Megawide got six projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

Delayed

Garcia said PPP Center Executive Director Cossete Canilao told her that all seven bidders of the MCIA project passed the pre-qualification stage, which lasted six months, and there were no complaints against the process.

“The project has long been delayed. I hope that DOTC will have the political will to award the project to the winning bidder in accordance with the law,” Garcia said.

Durano said that he does not care who will win in the bidding as long as the law is followed.

Durano, former tourism secretary, said a world-class airport will boost tourism development in Cebu and in the entire country.

Caminero said the inquiry will answer the questions raised by many Cebuanos.

Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas (Cebu Province, first district) said he filed a separate resolution asking for an inquiry to fast-track the MCIA project.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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