Thursday, May 29, 2008

No closure yet to Naia-3 case (Manila Airport)

About six years ago, the nation was agog over the opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3 in Pasay City. The private contractor, Philippine International Air Terminals Co., announced in November 2002 that the “world class, state-of-the-art” airport was about 95 percent complete and was ready for a soft opening in a few weeks’ time.

But the opening of Naia-3 was repeatedly postponed after the Piatco contract was reviewed by MalacaƱang and alleged infirmities and terms disadvantageous to the government were uncovered. The bulk of the construction cost for the aviation terminal was found to have been shouldered by German firm Fraport in alleged violation of the anti-dummy law. Subsequently, the Arroyo administration declared the contract null and void and took over the facility in 2004. The Supreme Court in 2005 upheld the government’s drastic action but ordered it to grant just and fair compensation to Piatco.

Today, the Naia-3, which Piatco claimed was built at a cost of more than $600 million, remains mothballed. Whenever motorists pass through the Villamor Air Base and catch a glimpse of this imposing white elephant, they can only shake their heads in frustration. Why has such an expensive facility stayed idle for an inordinately long time, when the country is badly in need of bigger and modern airports to cope with the ever-increasing volume of air travelers?

The fiasco over the terminal is perhaps the biggest failure of the Arroyo administration in the sphere of infrastructure, setting back the growth of tourism and investments, and giving our country a black eye before the international community.

Read the Full Article from the Manila Standard Today

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