Cebu leaders back awarding of airport project, hope for no additional delays

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Monday, April 7, 2014


THE Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Sunday that it has all the necessary legal bases in awarding the contract of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) project to the GMR-Megawide Consortium.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya made the statement after a petition filed by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III asking the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the DOTC and the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) from issuing a notice of award and a concession agreement to GMR-Megawide.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said they are glad that the airport project has been awarded.

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“The process has been recognized as regular so there should be no more delay,” he said.

The mayor said a new and bigger airport terminal would bring in more investments. “We can attract more domestic and foreign tourists. We will continue to become an engine of economic growth,” he added.

Delay

Davide said Osmeña’s petition before the Supreme Court can delay the project.

He cited Republic Act (RA) 8975, which ensures that government infrastructure projects are implemented on time by disallowing lower courts from issuing a temporary restraining order against any undertaking.

The law, however, exempts the SC.

Abaya said the DOTC will follow whatever the SC decides.

“We will have to honor any court issuance that will prevent the project from moving forward, even if we believe that there is no more time to waste in improving the country’s second busiest airport. What we can assure Cebuanos who are awaiting this project is that we have the law on our side and we will defend this project to the end,” he said.

Perception

The DOTC chief said the decision to award the MCIA project to the GMR-Megawide enhances the international community’s perception of the Philippines as an investment destination.

By sticking to bidding rules and refusing to be influenced by external factors, “we are showing the world that the country now has an excellent investment climate,” he said.

“Gone are the days when big-ticket contracts would be awarded despite being tainted with irregularities. As promised, bidding at the DOTC is conducted on a level playing field, because we follow ‘daang matuwid (straight path),’” he said.

With a history of multi-billion-peso infrastructure contracts being burdened with legal and political issues, the Philippines has long been viewed as a risky investment option by businessmen around the world. Several of these contracts were entered into by the transport agency during previous administrations.

Abaya expressed belief that part of the process in attracting foreign direct investments, which will boost the Philippine economy, is enhancing confidence in the country’s institutions.

Promises

“There is only one way to create that perception: to prove it with our actions. If we promise honest and competent governance, we must show it. If we promise a level playing field, we must do it. We made those promises to investors when we began with this project, and now we have proven it,” Abaya said.

DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said that the 25-year concession to GMR-Megawide was given on Friday.

“Amidst all the noise drummed up in different forums the past few months, the DOTC has allowed nothing but the law and the country’s interests to matter in awarding the project. Finally, Cebuanos will soon get the world-class airport they deserve, which will not only boost the province’s economy and tourism industry, but the whole country’s as well,” he said.

“This project should have been done at least a decade ago, so there is no more time to waste. We have resolved all issues, we are ready to defend our decision, and it is now time to push forward on ‘daang matuwid’ by delivering our services to the people,” he added.

In the bidding conducted in November last year, the GMR-Megawide proposed to undertake the project, which entails renovating the existing passenger terminal building (PTB), building a new one to service international flights, and operating the airport, at a
premium of P14.4 Billion.

Post-award

This offer bested those of six other groups, Sagcal said.

GMR-Megawide will have 20 days to complete the post-award requirements, such as the submission of an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of P180 million, and the payment of the premium amount to government through the MCIAA, he said.

Once the requirements are satisfied, the concession agreement will be signed by the parties, paving the way for the implementation of the project over the next three to four years, the official explained.

MCIA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said the DOTC and the MCIAA Board will look into Megawide-GMR’s compliance of post-award requirements.

He said that the MCIAA has five days to verify the consortium’s post-award requirements and payment of P14.4 billion.

Once all requirements are met, Megawide-GMR, MCIAA and DOTC will sign a tripartite concession agreement.

“From the signing of the concession agreement, Megawide-GMR will take over the maintenance and operation of the airport,” Villarete said.

Megawide-GMR is required to present a new and operational terminal 36 months from the signing of the concession agreement, Villarete said.

Megawide-GMR earlier promised that a new terminal at MCIA will be operational three years after the start of construction. (Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 08, 2014.

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