MANILA, Philippines – One of President Benigno Aquino III’s promises in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2012 was a structurally sound Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) before he delivers his 4th SONA speech in 2013.
But on Monday, July 22, he asked Filipinos to bear with him as the repair and rehabilitation of NAIA-3 remains outstanding.
“I must ask for your understanding on this issue,” he said in his speech.
The 4th president to handle NAIA-3 cited legal technicalities encountered in an arbitration court abroad for the delays, as well as his team’s target to ensure repair works are properly covered by warranties.
“This is a complex issue, which has already undergone two arbitrations. We would have won both of them, but one of the decisions was reversed due to a technicality. This is why we are now preparing for our case to be heard once more.”
He was referring to the compensation case filed by German airport operator Fraport AG before World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C. and the damage claim of Philippine International Airport Terminal Co. (Piatco), the consortium that won the right to build and operate NAIA-3, before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Singapore. Fraport was Piatco’s foreign partner.
After an ICSID committee overturned the 2007 decision that set aside Fraport’s compensation claim, Japanese firm Takenaka Corp, the airport’s original builder and contractor, joined in the dispute and is also seeking compensation.
Takenaka’s move is the reason for the further delays in the NAIA-3 works. Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters on Monday, July 22, they need to await the clearance from the government lawyers before an agreement with the Japanese firm could be aggressively pursued.
Abaya said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has already reviewed the revised work agreement that would be signed by Takenaka Corp. of Japan.
“There are added complications because of the issue of warranties for the completion of NAIA 3. It is not acceptable for us to find defects after renovations, and then have to spend even more money to fix them,” the president said.
“This is why when we were told that the original contractor was willing to give a proper warranty, we agreed to the deal. But we want to be certain; we want to fully and correctly go through the process,” he added.
Previous Transportation Secretary (and now Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas had convinced Takenaka in 2012 to complete additional construction needed to make NAIA-3 fully operational and even signed a memorandum of understanding with Takenaka president Toichi Takenaka.
The additional works involving 23 systems covers putting up systems for baggage handling, flight information display, building management, local area network, fire alarms, and passenger loading bridges.
Signing of the revised contract with Takenaka was scheduled early this 2013 with the completion of the construction and rehabilitation works expected by the end of the year.
Abaya pointed out that construction works would be completed within 8 to 10 months after the signing of the contract with Takenaka. (Read: 100% of NAIA-3 operational by end-2013: Abaya)
The Arroyo government cancelled the contract with Piatco in 2002 after it was discovered that the contract was riddled with irregularities.
The international airport terminal, which has a capacity of 13 million passengers a year, remains half used. Some airport systems are still largely manually operated.
Budget airlines Cebu Pacific, PAL Express and Japanese carrier ANA currently operate domestic and international flights at the NAIA-3 facility.
Overseas Filipino workers, tourists, businessmen and other passengers bound for or flying in from abroad go through the 30-year-old and congested NAIA Terminal 1. – Rappler.com