MCIA exec says issues hounding airport project need to be resolved first

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


SEN. Sergio Osmeña III yesterday chided an official of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center for preempting the decision of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) in relation to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) expansion project.

Osmeña said it was “highly irregular” for PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao to announce that the DOTC is set to award the P17.5-billion project next week to the consortium of Filipino-owned company Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India.

The Senate and the House is conducting separate inquiries on the bidding process of the MCIA expansion project.

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MCIA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said the airport expansion has been long overdue so a few months of delay would not hurt.

“This expansion has been delayed for eight or nine years already, but we also have to take into account that issues must be resolved,” he said. “If it takes weeks or months to do it, we should, if only to avoid problems in the next 25 years.”

Inquiry

Osmeña, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, has questioned the bidding process undertaken by the DOTC for the MCIA venture and sought a Senate inquiry.

Osmeña said in a statement that Canilao announced that the DOTC is set to award the project to GMR-Megawide before the end of the month before the DOTC’s Prequalification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) could submit its findings and recommendations to the MCIAA Board.

In a newspaper report, Canilao said the DOTC intends to meet its end-March deadline.

The senator earlier threatened to sue DOTC if it awards the MCIA project to GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

In a privilege speech last month, Osmeña questioned GMR's partnership with German firm Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport), which previously figured in the anomaly-ridden Piatco-NAIA 3 terminal project.

Sought for comment, Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Canilao's announcement is in line with Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla's commitment to the House of Representatives.

“I know a commitment was made by USec (Undersecretary) Lotilla in the House when pressed to give a date by representatives that the DOTC will endeavor to award within the month,” Abaya told Sun.Star in a text message.

Stand

The House Committee on Transportation also launched an inquiry into the MCIA project.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama asked the City Council, through Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, to make a stand on the congressional inquiry.

He said the inquiry is delaying the MCIA expansion project, which could affect Cebu’s hosting of some meetings related to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in 2015 and the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.

“We want to solve it as soon as possible but we should not jump also and just disregard all the issues,” Villarete said.

He said he will attend the March 25 hearing in the Senate.

“Whatever will be asked of us, we will gladly answer, if we know the answer,” said Villarete. Sunnex/JGA

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2014.

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