Concerns Raised Over Rushed NAIA Rehabilitation Project

Ninoy Aquino International Airport
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PRESIDENTIAL Adviser on Poverty Alleviation Secretary Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon has expressed concerns about the rushed awarding of the P171-billion contract for the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. In a statement, Gadon urged the government to extend the bidding period, pointing out that the current deadline set by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) may favor only two prospective project proponents.

Questioning the need for haste, Gadon asked, “Why the rush? That’s a P171 billion project. Is there a favored bidder that’s why they don’t want an extension?” He further emphasized his recommendation to the Office of the President, aligning with the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) suggestion to grant an extension. The ADB, being the prime mover of this extension, supports the need for more time.

Gadon highlighted the extensive bid documents that need to be accomplished and complied with by the bidders, which consist of 340 pages. He argued that the current December 27 deadline appears to be tailored to favor a specific bidder. He added, “The extension will also avoid possible suspicion that a favored proponent is being tailored fit to grab the award. With the staggering cost of the project—P171 billion—the selection process must not create any suspicion of rigging.”

Backing the ADB’s call for an extension, two lawmakers emphasized the importance of due diligence and the avoidance of perceptions of favoritism. They warned that if the December 27, 2023 deadline remains, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) may face accusations of rigging the process and favoring only two prospective bidders.

The ADB, in an internal memo, proposed extending the bidding period from December 27, 2023, to January 29, 2024. The primary purpose of this extension is to provide potential bidders with more time to prepare and participate. The ADB believes that increased competition will lead to better financial outcomes for the government.

Previously, eight firms purchased bid documents for the project, including the Asian Airport Consortium, Turkish firm Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp., India’s GMR Group, Turkish conglomerate Limak Holding A.S., Manila International Airport Consortium, San Miguel Corp., and Spark 888 Management Inc.

Gadon supports the proposed extension, as he believes it will give more time to potential proponents to develop realistic and advantageous bid terms for the government and the public. By allowing for a fair and thorough bidding process, the government can ensure that the project is awarded to the most capable and qualified bidder.

Overall, Gadon’s concerns about the rushed awarding of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport rehabilitation project highlight the importance of transparency, fairness, and competition in government contracts. Extending the bidding period will provide potential bidders with adequate time to prepare and participate, ultimately leading to better outcomes for the government and the public.

Source: The Manila Times

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