President Arroyo is committed to opening a controversial airport terminal and hopes to resolve by next year a dispute between the government and a Filipino German consortium that built it, an official said Thursday.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 has almost been completed, but the Supreme Court has ruled to cancel the contract between the government and the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., or Piatco, because of alleged anomalies. Germany’s Fraport AG owns a substantial stake in Piatco.
“The President is committed to opening it, and we are doing a lot of things about it,” Trade Secretary Cesar Purisima told foreign journalists. “If things progress the way we expect it to progress, we can resolve the issue, hopefully next year.”
Purisima said he could not outline the administration’s moves owing to ongoing arbitration between the government and Piatco with the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and between Manila and Fraport with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C.
Piatco is seeking to revive the canceled contract. Fraport claims, among other things, that the Philippines has expropriated its investments.
The Supreme Court in May 2003 annulled the contract on the ground that Paircargo Consortium, the private group that eventually evolved into Piatco, didn’t have the “requisite financial capacity” at the time it won the project in 1997 and should have been disqualified from bidding.
The Court also voided the agreement allowing Piatco to run the terminal, because it contained amendments that effectively converted the deal with the government “into an entirely different agreement from the contract [tendered] upon.”
It said, however, that the government must reimburse Piatco for the expenses it legally incurred in undertaking the project. Piatco claims it invested US$650 million.
The Court upheld the ruling in February.