Serge O should see the light

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014


IT HAS been days after the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) decided to award the contract for the expansion of the Mactan Cebu International Airport to the GMR-Megawide consortium. Some requirements are still to be met, though, before the awarding of the contract is completed. If there are no hitches, construction will start in the early part of 2015.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III are both relieved that the contract has finally been awarded. The delay in the bidding process was due to questions raised earlier by some members of the House of Representatives from Cebu and by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III. The second highest bidder, Changi-Filinvest also joined the questioning.

Business leaders in Cebu are also one in expressing approval for the DOTC decision.

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Like DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, their stance was to stick to bidding rules.

“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,’” Abaya said.

But while everybody in Cebu has welcomed the DOTC decision, obviously including Cebu congressmen who I still have to hear complain about it, Osmeña is pursuing what has become a lonely struggle. He has not backed off from his earlier decision to go to the Supreme Court to stop the awarding of the contract to GMR-Megawide. And he is even including in his target the DOTC officials who did the awarding.

Incidentally, Changi-Filinvest has also released a press statement claiming that the DOTC did not consider the questions they raised against GMR-Megawide.

I don’t know if what Osmeña is doing is mainly because of his genuine concern for the welfare of the Cebuanos or personal interest plus ego is pushing him forward.

Anyway, I hope the good senator will see the light. Leaders of both the private and public sector in Cebu are not protesting the awarding of the contract to GMR-Megawide.

Instead, they are expressing the hope that work on the airport will finally start.

By seeking to prevent DOTC from awarding the contract to GMR-Megawide and even disqualifying the said consortium, Osmeña wants to put the process back to square one.

But even if the bidding process is re-started, there is no assurance that disgruntled losers won’t again launch a campaign to prevent the next winning bidder from snagging the contract.

The bidding process that has just been completed was done in a transparent manner.

This was to prove to potential investors that a level playing field can be had in this country. What Osmeña and the other critics are doing is to instead show that nothing much has changed in the manner we are running this country. And it’s a turn-off.

The more Osmeña and the people behind them will work to prolong the process, the more he will be alienated from the majority of Cebuanos. That is a bad strategy for politicians like him. Serge may not be running in 2016 but we all know what the political plans of his brother are.

They seemed to have forgotten one lesson in the 2013 polls, which is that it is no longer “Bisag unsaon, Osmeña gihapon” as far as Cebu City politics is concerned.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 09, 2014.

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