Editorial: Let this project take off

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Friday, March 21, 2014

AT THE start of the bidding for the Mactan airport expansion project, about 15 months ago, prospective bidders were told they should not delay the process.

They were required to sign an undertaking that they would waive their right to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) or seek “any other form of coercive, judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative writ, process or issuance” that would suspend the bidding process or make it “inconvenient.”

Editorial cartoon on Mactan-Cebu airport expansion
(Editorial cartoon by Josua Cabrera/Sun.Star Cebu)

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, when he faced the Senate committee on public services last March 11, explained that the provision was intended to stop any of the bidders from resorting to harassment, “where you go to another forum, go to court and you buy off a TRO and throw a monkey wrench into a national project.”


Despite this precaution, the renovation of the existing airport terminal and the construction of a new one have been delayed. Next time you have to endure a long line at Mactan airport or are tempted to bemoan its condition, remember that you are in a facility that already serves around two million passengers more than what it was built to accommodate each year.

While the top two bidders, Megawide-GMR Consortium and Filinvest-Changi consortium, publicly debate on whom between them deserves the contract more, frequent travelers and the business community lament why it is taking so long for the project to start construction.

Impatient for improvements in the airport, or at least for more clarity from the transportation department and the Public-Private Partnership Center, the public feeds on speculation. How much of a say will the Department of Transportation and Communication and the community have on the design of the new terminal? Why weren’t provisions made for a second runway? Most urgently, who won the bidding?

Some of these questions are being explored in the Senate hearing, which will resume on Tuesday. One can only hope this process, while informative, does not unduly delay an already overdue project. That would be the height of irony for a process that was supposedly meant to “question the delay” in awarding the project.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2014.


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