Cebu lawmakers’ call

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Saturday, February 15, 2014


A day after some local business leaders urged the national government to fast-track the award of the Mactan Cebu International Airport project to the winning bidder, we learned that seven out of nine Cebu district congressmen have already sought a congressional inquiry of the bidding process.

The resolution asking for a House investigation “in aid of legislation” was filed Monday and was signed by Reps. Raul del Mar (Cebu City North), Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City South), Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu 2nd), Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu 3rd), Benhur Salmbangon (Cebu 4th), Ace Durano (Cebu 5th) and Aileen Radaza (Cebu 6th). That leaves Reps. Samsam Gullas (Cebu 1st) and Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Cebu 6th) as the only holdouts.

It’s a politically diverse group and the fact that Cebu’s legislators crossed party lines in demanding a probe on the conduct of the bidding for the building of an ultra-modern terminal at the island’s only international airport leaves very little doubt, if at all, that the investigation will push through.

Whether the congressmen will be able to stall the award of the project to the GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India and Megawide Corp. consortium is, however, an altogether different matter. GMR-Megawide submitted the highest financial bid for the terminal at P14.4 billion, narrowly beating out the partnership between Filinvest and Changi Airport of Singapore.

I have written about the project at least twice and, on both occasions, stressed the need for the bids and award committee (BAC) to address all questions related to the conduct of the bidding and of the bidders before a final decision be made on whom to engage to undertake it.

My point is that the airport is the gateway to our home and therefore, we should see to it that it is something that we could be proud of. Many were quick to dismiss former Mayor Tommy Osmeña’s comment that the winning design looked like a poultry as typically Tommy but in my view, he raised a very valid issue: is the design the best there is?

Moreover, considering the sheer size of the project, it behoves the government to remove any doubt on the integrity of the bidding process before proceeding any further. And that can be done only through an honest-to-goodness inquiry.

That is the pre-qualification stage was had before the bidding is of no moment. Precisely, the rules allow for post-qualification to allow the BAC to go back to, and rectify, what it may have initially missed.

If it missed none, then let the BAC go ahead, issue the notice of award to GMR-Megawide. But right now, with or without the House inquiry, it owes us, Cebuanos, the duty to give us a full account of what happened in the bidding and assure us that everything was and is above board.

***

I squirmed while watching Eul Vicente Rodriguez on TV narrate how he decided to go into pimping and how he regarded his trade. The 27-year-old nursing graduate, whom the police arrested for selling a minor to a foreigner (who was a police asset) showed absolutely no remorse.

Rodriguez told TV reporters that he decided to become a pimp because he flunked the board examinations thrice and his first job – managing beauty contestants – paid very little while his gay neighbors earned more from engaging in cybersex.

He also said he posed for foreign clients with his ward but it was all right because they did not do this and did not do that but only showed their breast (“totoy”). In fact, his only concern, according to a Sun.Star Cebu report (our TV5 camera missed this part) was being made to sleep among tattooed men.

They should lock him up with 100 of them.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 16, 2014.

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