Aquino: Premium from airport deal goes directly to nat’l treasury
LAPU-LAPU, Cebu, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III decried on Monday as an “insult” the claims of his critics that the P14.4 billion premium paid by a consortium for the operations and maintenance of the airport here would be used by the Liberal Party as campaign funds for the 2016 elections.
Mr. Aquino said he considered the allegation an “insult” to his administration because the premium generated from public private partnerships (PPP) projects would go directly to the national treasury.
“Bago ako magpatuloy, nabanggit lang sa akin kanina meron yatang nagsasabing ang P14.4 billion yan ay gagamitin ng Liberal Party para sa eleksyon sa susunod na taon. So, alam ninyo, talagang nakakainsulto ‘yon (Before I continue, it was mentioned to me that someone was claiming that the P14.4 billion would be used by the Liberal Party for the elections next year. You know, it is insulting,)” he said in his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new passenger terminal building at the Mactan Cebu International Airport here on Monday afternoon.
“Pero ganun talaga ang buhay. Lulunukin ko na lang yon (But that is life. I will just swallow it),” he added.
President Aquino stressed that he hoped his critics would read on the process of the PPP so they would know that the money would go to the national treasury and Congress would later decide how the funds would be used.
He also pointed out that the premiums received by government from the PPP projects have been increasing.
Mr. Aquino cited the P11-billion premium from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport expressway 2 project and then the P14.4 -billion from the MCIA terminal 2 building construction project.
“Lahat po ng pondong iyan, diretso sa kaban ng bayan at magagamit sa iba pang proyekto para sa mamamayan (All these funds go directly to the government coffers and will be used in different projects that will benefit the people),” he added.
Last year, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation won a 25-year concession agreement to manage MCIA after offering a bid for the operations and maintenance of the airport worth P14.4 billion.
But former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña, who supported the presidential bid of Mr. Aquino in 2016, told reporters that LP has been planning to use the premium as campaign funds.
Osmeña also wrote to Mr. Aquino to invoke the issue of local autonomy citing that “it’s uncertain that such amount would be spent for Cebu.”
Without naming names, President Aquino advised his critic that if he had no one to talk to, he should ask Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman “na ihanap ka ng makakausap (to look for someone he can talk to).”
President Aquino thanked the Cebuanos for their continued support for him and his family over the years.
He admitted that his job as the country’s chief executive was not easy due to the criticisms he received.
“Gaano man kalaki ang nagawang tama, hahanapin pa rin nila ang pinakamaliit na mali. Kadalasan, para magpapogi at mamolitika (No matter how big I have done right, they will still look for even the smallest mistake. Most of the time, they do it to gain popularity and for politics),” he said.
President Aquino was in Cebu on Monday afternoon for the groundbreaking ceremony of the 50,000 square meters passenger MCIA terminal building.
With the President were Secretaries Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local and Ramon Jimenez of Tourism. He left for Manila past 3 p.m.
The P32-billion new passenger terminal 2 building, slated to be completed in 2018, is among the 10 solicited PPP projects awarded by the Aquino administration.
Mr. Aquino said the 10 were more than the six solicited PPP projects that the past three administrations had awarded.
According to President Aquino, 12 more PPP projects will undergo bidding and 30 more PPP projects are coming, which will bring in a total of 50 PPP projects in the pipeline that will cost P1.11 trillion under his administration.
He said this showed that private companies had full confidence and trust in his administration.
(With a report from Doris C. Bongcac, Inquirer Visayas). SFM
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