OFFICIALS of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) were raked over live coals by the Senate committee on public service for their slowpoke mode in the awarding of the construction and 25-year management contract of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
The lawmakers, in the Senate hearing requested by Sen. Serge Osmeña 3rd to look into pending award of the contract for MCIA expansion, also questioned the government’s public-private partnership program and the DOTC Bid and Awards Committee (BAC) over its supposed failure to conduct a background check on firms participating the bidding.
Osmeña asked if the DOTC-BAC headed by undersecretary Perpetuo Lotilla, made a thorough check on interested bidders during the pre-qualification process including an Internet search on the bidders, the DOTC official admitted that they did not.
The senator also expressed disbelief after learning that the BAC only relied on sworn statement of the bidders.
Osmeña then turned his attention to the winning consortium, Indian conglomerate GMR Infrastructure, the foreign partner of the Megawide-GMR consortium, reportedly on a three-year consistent operating loss and pressured by Indian banks to sell assets to lighten up the consortium’s debt.
The senator also questioned GMR’s long-time commitment after learning about the company’s new business strategy of “Asset Light, Asset Right”—where they invest, create value, and divest.
GMR also won the contract in the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport, but sold 40 percent of its investment after only 6 years.
Asked about the MCIA project, GMR assured that the company abides with the legal requirement to stay at least nine years.
Sen. Francis Escudero also questioned BAC on their interpretation on the bidding rules specifically on the conflict of interest issue raised by the Filinvest Development Corp. and its foreign partner-Changi Airport.