Davide: Cebu airport expansion ‘long overdue’

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MANILA -- The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) expansion is "long overdue," Provincial Governor Hilario Davide III told the Senate committee on public services Tuesday, as the award for the P17.5-billion project hangs.

"Cebuanos actually feel that this project is very important and long overdue. We expect the arrivals to increase. It is a very welcome (development) especially for Cebuanos," Davide told the Senate panel.

Davide, however, also raised the concerns of the business community in Cebu, which is "concerned on the issues involving the bidders."

"Their sentiment is that if there is a winning bidder, why not award it? There are also certain sectors who are concerned about issues raised by the Filinvest and Changi consortium," the governor said, noting that two big events are taking place in the province in the next two years.

The Filinvest-Changi Airports consortium earlier raised the alleged conflict of interest between the best bidder Filipino-owned Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India, and the group of First Philippine Holdings – Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad.

Oliver Tan, chief financial officer (CFO) of Megawide, said there was no issue of conflict of interest despite GMR and Malaysia Airports being partners in several projects.

"It never crossed our minds because the consortium we submitted is the best offer and Malaysia (Airports) submitted the worst offer," Tan said.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III, vice chairman of the Senate committee on public services, who hails from Cebu, had expressed concerns over the awarding of the construction and 25-year management contract of the MCIA.

Osmeña said the financial standing and operating record of GMR is questionable and as such, the company may fail to carry out the airport project.

But the senator clarified that he has nothing against GMR. Osmeña said he only expected the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to undertake due diligence in the bidding.

"Ako nag-due diligence ako for four or five hours. Nag internet lang ako, nakita ko lahat ng baho. Ginawa niyo ba ito? Hindi daw. Susmaryosep," Osmeña told reporters.

"Just give us a reason why you make a decision whoever you award it to," he said referring to the DOTC.

Sidharath Kapur, president and CFO for Airports Sector of the GMR Group, said their company is "financially sound" and "is of good standing."

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, meanwhile, clarified that the 25-year expansion project is yet to be awarded to the GMR-Megawide Consortium despite an earlier announcement of Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao that the project will be awarded this month.

Abaya said the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) is still on the process of reviewing the issues raised against GMR.

"We required them to submit documents and there were issues raised by the other bidders and those are being verified. Whatever their answers are, the BAC will process that," Abaya said.

Being a member of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) board, Abaya deferred comment on whether GMR should be disqualified by the BAC.

Osmeña had earlier said the final approving authority for the airport expansion project is the MCIAA board, which will decide based on the recommendations of the BAC. (Sunnex)

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