Megawide’s original proponent status revoked as some sectors don’t want Naia renovated — Source
MANILA, Philippines — The revocation of the original proponent status given to Megawide Construction Corp. and its partner for the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) may have been triggered by sectors who stand to lose with the airport’s modernization.
This was the claim of a source close to Megawide, who told INQUIRER.net on Tuesday that the company believes corruption and competing business interests led to the revocation of the original proponent status (OPS) by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
But aside from that, he also said that some competitors and groups wanting to build other airports around the National Capital Region may be against it, as a modernized and functional Naia may hurt their bids.
“Everyone knows Naia is not a world-class airport, and how many scandals have been attached to Naia over so many years? So obviously, there must be people inside Naia who do not want positive change. And there are also people, maybe there are companies with no prior airport experience who don’t want Naia to be transformed because they feel threatened,” he said in a phone interview.
“All of those visions are wrong, why? Because Metro Manila is so big, it’s like Tokyo, or Mexico City, or New York City, each of which has multiple airports. It makes no sense whatsoever that the Filipino people should continue to suffer. The capital region’s main airport will still be Naia for years to come but it is going to be allowed to deteriorate? Come on, now is the time for our country to get our act together,” he said.
“The public and government need to ask what kind of party would stand to benefit from Naia not being transformed into a transparently run, first-world airport? Isn’t it time to break this legacy of corruption and backwardness?”
The source did not explicitly mention what airport projects are being referred to, but a P500 billion airport is being proposed at Sangley Point in Cavite, while the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan has been approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Sangley Point International Airport is seen to be a joint venture between the Cavite government, billionaire Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp., and partner China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC). Meanwhile, the construction of the New Manila Airport will be spearheaded by the San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
Both airports have encountered multiple controversies: Critics have raised concerns on China’s involvement in the Sangley airport considering that the country has an outstanding dispute with the Asian superpower over the West Philippine Sea.
For the New Manila International Airport, environment advocates warned that flooding may occur due to the reclamation project, as part of the airport would sit on the Manila Bay — hence, displaced water may cause flooding.
Earlier, it was reported that MIAA revoked the OPS, with Megawide claiming that they did not know the reason why this move was done.
The OPS was given to Megawide and its partner GMR Infrastructure of India last July 2020, after they presented an unsolicited P109 billion proposal for the modernization of Naia — often touted as one of the world’s worst international airports.
The supposed lack of a reason was confirmed by the source, who said that none was given even if though they have complied with the government’s requirements.
According to him, people who would deny the rehabilitation of Naia — the primary gateway to the Philippines and used by Filipinos and foreigners alike — have questionable motives especially since the infrastructure project could be a big boost to the ailing economy.
“The public needs to understand that they have just been denied another step towards our economic recovery, everyone knows that the way forward as to climb back out of the economic crisis is through significant infrastructure investment,” the Megawide insider said.
“And this was a P109 billion project entirely funded by the private sector Not a single centavo will come from government or the Filipino citizen. Yet some party wanted to kill this project? You’ve got to wonder why,” he added.
In the statement, Megawide said that they will be filing a motion for reconsideration.
“Megawide-GMR will immediately file a motion for reconsideration for its proposal. At all stages, Megawide has complied with all requirements and interpretations of the government for its unsolicited proposal. There are no justifiable grounds to deny the Filipino people a transformed NAIA,” Megawide said.
“Megawide and GMR Infrastructure (GMR) first submitted a proposal for the rehabilitation of NAIA in 2018. Five months ago, after nearly two years of failed discussions with several of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates, Megawide was asked by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to consider resubmitting a proposal for the rehabilitation of the aging NAIA,” the firm added.
The Megawide-GMR consortium was not the first group to push for the rehabilitation of Naia: a super-consortium consisting of the country’s top construction and holding firms was created, but the group eventually backed out from the deal.
“Today was disappointing, but as more Filipinos know the facts behind the proposal, understand the full P109 billion equity has been successfully raised and they are ready to employ thousands of Filipinos right now when every job in our economy is critical, then there is a real chance to give President Duterte and the national government a key economic win. The country needs this project, the company believes in their proposal and they will fight for it,” he added.
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