Senator Osmeña threatens suit over Cebu int’l airport contract
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III has threatened to sue the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) if the agency awards a P17.7-billion contract to upgrade the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India.
Osmeña said the DOTC committed lapses in the bidding procedure and ignored the issues raised on the winning bidder’s financial and operational competence.
“If the DOTC gives this to GMR, I’ll take them to court. What can I do, the DOTC did not do its job,” Osmeña said in a news briefing at the Senate on Thursday.
The allegation that the winning bidder had a questionable financial standing was first raised by a losing bidder, Filinvest and its Singaporean partner Changi. Megawide-GMR has denied the issues raised against it.
But Osmeña took up the issue on the Senate floor. The senator from Cebu said he was particularly interested in the government’s expansion of the MCIA because it was his father, the late Cebu Gov. Sergio Osmeña Jr., who envisioned the construction of the Mactan airport in 1951.
Told that questioning the expected award of the MCIA deal in the courts would only mean further delay of the long-overdue project, Osmeña said: “I don’t want to be stuck with a guy there for 25 years … I don’t want anybody building our airport in Cebu who is not qualified.”
“If the DOTC makes a wrong decision, yes (there’s no other recourse but to take them to court). But right now, the DOTC has not yet made a decision. And I am questioning why they did not undertake, exercise proper due diligence, that now, after the process is almost ending, now we find out that these are the skeletons in the closet,” Osmeña said.
“I asked the DOTC if they did their homework, if they checked the background. They did not. That’s why their report was only two pages,” Osmeña said.
“I asked for a copy of the report of the technical working group, the one that was supposed to undertake the due diligence … Two pages! Two pages for all seven bidders! I said, ‘you guys are a joke!’” he said.
Osmeña said DOTC officials, in a recent Senate hearing on the MCIA project, admitted some lapses on their part such as relying on the sworn statement of bidders with regard to their corporate backgrounds.
In his privilege speech, Osmeña expressed “serious misgivings” about the corporate competence of GMR to carry out the 25-year project, citing media reports of GMR’s ‘shaky’ financial standing and its partnership with the German firm Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide or Fraport.
Fraport was one of the companies that figured in the cancelled Piatco-Naia deal to build a new air terminal in Manila.
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