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Cebuanos should be consulted on Mactan airport’s P17.5-B expansion—Poe

Sen. Grace Poe FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Grace Poe has called on national and local government officials involved in the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport expansion project to protect the country’s interests in the multi-billion-peso deal.

This developed as the officials of the expected winning bidder, the consortium of Megawide and GMR of India, told a Senate inquiry on the MCIA deal that it has sufficient financial backing to take on the project.

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The executives also told Poe that they would be open to inputs from Cebuano stakeholders on the airport’s development.

The MCIA project involves the construction of a new passenger terminal building and the operation and maintenance of the old and new facilities.

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“The bottomline is that our airport should be about services, how it will aid progress and how it can be a source of pride to Cebuanos,” Poe said during the inquiry.

“It is important that we feel a sense of ownership of this undertaking, especially among Cebuanos who take pride in their world-class design,” she added.

Poe asked Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III if key stakeholders have been consulted on the airport project.

“The Cebuanos believe that this project is very important and long overdue. We expect tourist arrivals to increase with the completion of this project,” Davide said.

“We hope the issues involving the bidders will be resolved soon,” he added.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III sought the inquiry as he questioned the financial and operational capabilities of the GMR and the due diligence the Department of Transportation and Communication did on the firm.

He threatened to stop the project with a lawsuit if it was awarded to GMR.

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GMR and Megawide executives addressed Osmeña’s concerns and told the Senate committee that the consortium was capable of completing the airport and that they have been in full compliance with the bid rules and requirements.

“GMR has an excellent financial standing as illustrated by the investment grade credit rating by international rating agencies,” GMR president Sidharath Kapur said.

“In addition, reputed international banks have expressed interest in lending to the consortium for the project,” he added.

Kapur said GMR has been making operational profits and has been able to meet all its financial obligations.

Oliver Tan, chief financial officer of Megawide, also indicated his firm’s financial strength.

“Megawide’s net worth alone is four times the stipulated requirement for the MCIA bid,” Tan said.

As to Poe’s concern on the need to consult stakeholders, consortium representatives indicated that they would hear out suggestions from the Cebuano community.

“The design of an airport is about creating spaces which the passengers and community can enjoy,” said Andrew Harrison, deputy chief executive officer of GMR’s Delhi International Airport.

“We have plans to collaborate with internationally renowned Cebuano architects and designers to ensure that Cebuanos are proud of their airport,” he added.

Louie Ferrer, chief marketing officer of Megawide, said there have been efforts to reach out to both Cebuano stakeholder groups and the general public.

“Not only are we talking to local designers, we are also sharing the design to the public through social media. We can collaborate with them on the design and the facilities they are looking for in their airport,” Ferrer said.

Poe said it was her “keen interest that we go the extra mile and ensure that our people will be truly proud of this airport.”

She stressed the need for public involvement to ensure transparency and accountability in government contracts.

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TAGS: congressional inquiry, Construction, expansion project, GMR, Grace Poe, legislative inquiry, Mactan Cebu International Airport, Megawide, News, Philippine Congress, Regions, Senate
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