Clark deal, from bad to worst

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GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
Clark airport deal being rushed, does GMA know?
March 10, 2010

What is happening at the government-owned Clark International Airport Corp.? Talk is that chairman Nestor S. Mangio is rushing to award to a Kuwaiti firm the renovation and operation of the airport in the old US military base. This is despite the CIAC’s rejection of the Kuwaiti’s original offer for being disadvantageous to the government. Add to that the Government Corporate Counsel’s opinion that the proposed tie-up with the alien company would be illegal. Mangio allegedly is trying to beat the election ban on government contracting, which starts on Mar. 26.

Mangio flew to Kuwait last weekend to finish negotiations with Sheikh Loay Al Kharafi, head of the Al Mal-PRIDE Consortium. He brought along CIAC president Victor Jose Luciano, and board directors Romeo Dyoco and Rafael Angeles, who returned yesterday. Reportedly the three are reluctant to endorse a joint venture that Mangio wants to ink with Al Mal-PRIDE. This is because a joint venture selection committee formed by the CIAC board already had rejected the Kuwaiti’s unsolicited proposal to expand and operate the facility. The Government Corporate Counsel also had objected to major provisions of the joint venture.

The facility is now named Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in honor of President Gloria Arroyo’s father, also President in 1961-1965. Dyoco had headed the selection group that trashed the Kuwaiti proposal “with finality” in Dec. 2009. The body consisted of CIAC finance and technical men, as well as reps from the Dept. of Transportation and Communication and the National Economic and Development Authority regional offices.

The joint venture plan would cover three airport terminals. There are objections for all three:

• Terminal-1 would be handed over to the Kuwaiti firm for $20 million for 25 years. But its potential revenues during that period would top $120 million. The basis for the $20-million “selling price” was unclear.

• Al Mal-PRIDE would invest $100 million to modernize Terminal-2 under a 70:30 ownership with CIAC. This is against the law that requires public utilities to be run by 60-percent Filipino firms. Al Mal’s excuse is that its consortium partner, PRIDE, is a 100-percent Filipino firm. PRIDE allegedly is a front of at least three Batangas politicos.

• Terminal-3 would be developed under a clause that the Philippine government would not put up or operate an airport within a 50-kilometer radius. This was deemed onerous for tying down the government’s hands.

Two Cabinet men allegedly have misreported to President Arroyo the true nature of the joint venture. The objecting directors believe that she was misled to believe everything was legal. On the other hand, Mangio reportedly claims to have the President’s blessings.


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