Vested interest?

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


WEBSTER Dictionary defines vested interest as “a special concern or stake in maintaining or influencing a condition, arrangement, or action especially for selfish ends.”

Is the effort of Sen. Serge Osmeña III to prevent the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) from awarding the contract to construct and upgrade the terminal of Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to the GMR-Megawide consortium an honest intention or a vested interest?

Senator Osmeña can always claim that, as a Cebuano and legislator, it is his bounden obligation to ensure that the project, costing billions of pesos, would not go to waste just like other failed government projects in the past.

Granting for the sake of argument that the senator has a genuine purpose, but his actions somehow belie it. When the Senate did not inquire into the bidding process for the project despite his prodding, he petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the awarding of the contract.

It is a fact that the senator has the right to institute an action against a government office before the Supreme Court (SC) , but whether he has a cause of action against the DOTC remains to be a question.

Filing the petition for injunction with the SC to restrain the DOTC and the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) from awarding and signing the concession agreement with GMR-Megawide for the upgrading of the MCIA terminal is a grand disservice to Cebu in particular and the nation in general.

Senator Osmeña and his brother, former congressman Tomas, has not denied their veiled interest in having the bidding that GMR-Megawide topped cancelled in favor of the second highest bidder, the Filinvest-Changi partnership.

The senator and his brother are said to be related to the owners of Filinvest, who are Cebuanos by origin. Filinvest has an investment at the South Road Properties (SRP). Is there a conflict of interest? For the senator, there is none because he represents the interest of the Cebuanos. Tell that to the marines, senator.

Despite the petition that Senator Osmeña filed with the SC to stop the awarding of the contract, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya maintained that they have a legal basis in awarding the contract to GMR-Megawide.

In a statement, Abaya said, “We can assure the Cebuanos who are awaiting this project that we have the law on our side and we will defend this project to the end.”

Senator Osmeña should have felt alluded to when Secretary Abaya said that “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.”

While we need vanguards to protect our patrimony, the action of the senator in questioning the bidding process and asking the SC to stop the awarding of the contract purely on vested interest does not speak well of his role as citizen Juan de la Cruz and as a legislator.

***

All that Cebu PB Member Sun Shimura could do was sigh after he Provincial Board (PB) refused to withdraw its praises for Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro.

Some 10 barangay captains from Daanbantayan who are allies of Ma. Luisa Loot, who lost to Mayor Corro in the last elections, filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Corro for alleged favoritism in distributing the relief goods after typhoon Yolanda.

The complainants claimed that Mayor Corro distributed relief goods to the barangays whose chairmen are his allies but left out those who are not his supporters. The PB had commended Corro for a job well done in distributing the relief goods to the typhoon victims.

Aside from the complaint filed with the Ombudsman, the barangay captains of Loot also want Mayor Corro recalled. Is their action wrapped with pure intention or is for selfish ends?

Instead of wasting government funds for the holding of a recall election, the “leaders” of Daanbantayan should instead focus on rebuilding after Yolanda devastated the town. They should hold their horses for the 2016 local elections.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 10, 2014.

Opinion

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