Good ‘must be anchored on the right’
I appreciate the Inquirer’s editorial (“Good enough,” Inquirer, 5/30/11) on the decision of the Pasay Regional Trial Court on the Naia 3 expropriation case.
However, for it to stand universal acceptance, Inquirer’s notion that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” should consider a third limb: “the good” must be anchored on “the right.” Or, applying it to resolving judicial dispute, the ruling must be based on law and proven facts.
In this light, Inquirer’s “good enough” assessment of the court’s “just compensation” award fell short of the norm. It was based on what it dubbed as a “cautionary tale” of an investment project “gone bad.” Obviously, Inquirer’s understanding of the Piatco fiasco has been shaped by the “maximalist” black propaganda of its rivals. It assumes as true their repeated allegations that the Piatco project was riddled with corruption and did not meet required standards.
I beg to differ. Consider the following facts:
First, some dozen graft complaints filed with the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan against Piatco officers and the bidding committee have been dismissed; not one ended in a finding of guilt.
Second, the proceedings before the Arbitration Tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce in Singapore uncovered no concrete proof of the trail of corruption that the government and Piatco’s rivals claimed to have tainted the project. A number of highly-paid foreign “fraud experts,” hired by the government’s American lawyers, to testify on the corruption charge buckled under intense cross examination of Piatco’s Filipino lawyers. (Had you witnessed it, you would have been proud of our lawyers.) Not one of the experts came up with convincing evidence of fraud or corruption.
Third, government’s claim of “massive defects” in the construction of the terminal qualifies only as poetic hyperbole. The plain truth is, government has been using the facility and earning revenues from it for three years now.
Of course, I agree totally with the Inquirer that Joker Arroyo’s stand is “less comprehensible.” His findings were never adopted by the Senate.
One final word, the Supreme Court’s given standard of just compensation for the terminal facility is “replacement cost.” Piatco built the facility with its own funds, it presented evidence of the cost that went into its construction. The Board of Commissioners the Court created to evaluate the report of costs submitted by Piatco and its contractor, Takenaka, recommended payment more than double the amount awarded by the judge. The judge totally ignored the findings of the commissioners chosen for their technical expertise.
And the Inquirer says that the award is “good enough.” It insists that Piatco should get paid only part of its claimed costs, the deductions made by the judge without cogent explanation should be “penalty enough.”
The judge’s decision conflicts with what is right!
—MOISES S. TOLENTINO JR.,
vice president for
legal and public affairs,
Air Terminals Co. Inc.
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