The Osmeña factor

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Saturday, March 1, 2014


WHEN news came out that Filinvest and Changi consortium filed a protest before the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) after losing in the bidding for the multi-billion-peso modernization program of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), I thought some quarters or disgruntled persons were behind the move.

I was right, as their names have surfaced. One of them is citizen Tomas Osmeña, who is using his political connection to rock and possibly scuttle the deal.

Megawide, a local company, and GMR consortium, an India-based firm, won the bid for the P17.5-billion project. The consortium offered the highest bid. Filinvest, a local real estate, hotel and condominium developer that tied up with Changi group, a Singapore-based company, was second.

Other big firms, like Aboitiz, the Gokongwei group and Ayala also participated in the bidding but humbly accepted their defeat. Only Filinvest/Changi is making a noise like a baby deprived of his toy.

Why? Because somebody is egging it on. Filinvest was the first company to invest at the South Road Properties (SRP), and it did so when Osmeña was mayor. Tomas cannot
accept Filinvest's “defeat” in the bidding for reasons only known to him.

Had another company won in the bidding, would Filinvest/Changi have questioned the result? Tomas seems to be using now his strong political connection to prevent Megawide/GMR from getting the contract. His brother, Sen. Serge Osmeña even delivered a privilege speech questioning the bidding procedure and attacking the financial capability and track record of the winning bidder.

Serge claimed that he is showing concern for the project because he is Cebuano. He said he does not want the project to end up with nothing and later be questioned like what happened to the Piatco deal. He was referring to the controversial construction of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The case went up all the way to the Supreme Court.

But why raise these issues only now? DOTC’s pre-bids and awards committee accepted the bid of Megawide/GMR because the company complied with the requirements, including proof of its financial capability. The committee thoroughly screened the firms that participated in the bidding.

The issue on conflict of interest, shaky financial standing and track record should have been raised before the bidding. Not just any Tom, Dick and Harry can bid for a multi-billion-peso project.

Serge and Tomas’s congressmen-friends have threatened to call for a congressional inquiry on the matter. For what? In aid of legislation? What piece of legislation can they make out of it when at this stage only the bidding process was questioned?

They would just be wasting their time. There is no anomaly yet in this transaction because no taxpayers’ money has been spent.

Is this the same Serge Osmeña who conducted a congressional investigation when
Waterfront Hotel in Lahug was constructed by its original Malaysian owners several years ago? What happened to that probe?

Sadly, some of our legislators have allowed themselves to be used by people with vested interests.

By the way, Tomas recently brought some foreign investors to the office of Gov. Junjun Davide. And just a few days ago, he asked President Noynoy Aquino during his visit here to declare Bantayan island lots as disposable and alienable to encourage more investments. PNoy immediately shot down the proposal.

Nganong naabot na gud siya sa Bantayan nga taga-siyudad ra man siya. Kanang Bantayan island sakop sa fourth district ni Rep. Benhur Salimbangon.

Why is he suddenly interested in Bantayan? Because if he gets his way, he can already invite his investor-friends to buy properties there and benefit from the deal?

We know already what's in the mind of citizen Tomas. It’s like what he and his minions are doing in the city council. They block Mayor Mike Rama's move to sell SRP lots because Tomas wants to do it himself by conquering City Hall again in the next elections. Kana lagi kun makabalik pa siya.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 01, 2014.

Opinion

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