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Farolan mistaken; Ramos pushed airport dev’t

/ 05:40 AM May 09, 2011

PLEASE ALLOW us to straighten the distorted picture presented in Ramon Farolan’s April 17 column. In view of his obvious lack of adequate information, he directed his lament at the wrong party when he asked how the Ramos administration “had the political will, the ability, the drive and determination to lick the power crisis, deregulate the telecom, banking and oil industries and yet failed to prepare us for the next century with an international airport that could compare favorably with others in the region.”

When President Fidel V. Ramos assumed office on June 30, 1992, in addition to the critical issues he focused on—the debilitating power crisis, a dysfunctional transport and communications system, the Mindanao conflict, etc.—he prioritized the country’s need for modern airport facilities. FVR set out to build new airports and/or terminals in Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines (Clark, Subic, Cebu-Mactan, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Davao, General Santos and Jolo).

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With a grant from the French government, the design of NAIA 2 was completed by end of 1992. A soft loan was obtained from the Japanese government to finance a portion of the construction cost. Construction began in December 1995 and on May 1, 1998, Naia 2 was formally launched.

Even while Terminal 2 was being constructed, FVR was urging the taipans to undertake the construction of NAIA 3. Under Al Yuchengco’s leadership, the taipans agreed and formed Asia’s Emerging Dragons Corp. (AEDC) which eventually submitted an “unsolicited proposal” to build NAIA 3 for $350 million. PIATCo and its joint-venture partner Fraport AG subsequently offered to build the same terminal for the same amount but with a guaranteed payment to the government bigger than that offered by AEDC. Some questions on PIATCo’s “Swiss challenge” under the BOT law, as well as other legal issues, were raised, and AEDC went to court.

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At about that time, the Ramos administration ended and President Joseph Estrada took over. From January 2001 up to June 2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo held the reins of government. During these two succeeding administrations, the original contract for the construction of NAIA 3 was saddled with more than a dozen supplementary contracts. The controversies that came about during this period included questionable changes in design and specifications, sub-standard quality of materials and work, involvement of certain “consultants” and “power brokers,” and charges of corruption—all of which caused a very long delay in the completion of NAIA 3. These problems were, indeed, most unfortunate and caused unquantifiable damage to our economy and national pride in terms of missed opportunities and loss of investors’ confidence.

—NICK LAGUSTAN,
spokesman of former
President Fidel V. Ramos

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