China favored? Malacañang ‘open’ to complaints on Sangley airport project

Sofia Tomacruz
China favored? Malacañang ‘open’ to complaints on Sangley airport project
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo says Malacañang assumes the Sangley Point International Airport project is 'aboveboard,' unless it receives proof showing otherwise

MANILA, Philippines – Following complaints that the bidding process for the Sangley Point International Airport project “favored” a questionable Chinese firm, Malacañang said it is open to receiving complaints on supposed anomalies.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement during a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday, January 30, when asked for a reaction to the alleged anomalies.

“If the Chinese company has complied with all the bidding requirements unlike others, then necessarily the Chinese company will be the chosen one…. The presumption is it is aboveboard – lest you give us proof that it is not, then we come in,” Panelo said.

“This government has always been open to any complaint. In fact, we encourage people to complain so that we know whatever anomalies [are] there…. If they (other bidders) have valid complaints, why not [file]? They should,” he added.

Questionable deal? Prospective bidders in the Sangley airport project supposedly backed out after bidding documents showed “subjective criteria” and a “rushed” selection process would take place for the venture, according to an Inquirer report.

Bidders claimed the deadline for requirements was “unrealistic” as they were supposedly given only a little more than two months to prepare plans for the project, instead of 6 months to a year.

The partnership of China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) and tycoon Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corporation ended up being the lone bidder for the P500-billion Sangley Point International Airport.

CCCC was earlier blacklisted by the World Bank from 2011 to 2017 over “fraudulent practices,” which included fraudulent bidding schemes. (READ: ‘Shady track records’ hound PH-China infra firms)

One of CCCC’s subsidiaries, CCCC Dredging, has also supposedly been involved in the Chinese government’s reclamation of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The Sangley airport project is a local government public-private partnership, which means that it would not need to be reviewed by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.