Infrawatch PH, an infrastructure-oriented think tank, wants the Senate to review the Sangley International Airport project led by the Cavite provincial government amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s new policy on reclamation projects in the Manila Bay.
Terry Ridon, InfraWatch PH convenor and a former House transportation committee member, said that a review was called for with the recent pronouncement of the president to ban reclamation projects in the Manila Bay area except those connected with government projects until the end of his term.
“While the effort of the Cavite provincial government to spur economic growth should be lauded, there are some questions on whether provincial governments can undertake airport development projects as these initiatives are done by the Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines,” Ridon said.
“We have no question that local governments can undertake reclamation activities, but we are uncertain whether they can undertake airport development activities, most especially of this magnitude,” he added.
Ridon said the result of the bidding for the Sangley project also raised red flags on the viability of the project, as only a single proponent had submitted a proposal.
The tandem of MacroAsia and CCCC was the sole bidder for the $10-billion Sangley Point International Airport project which will be developed in partnership with the provincial government of Cavite.
“It should be noted that many of those that bought bid documents are infrastructure firms across the country’s largest conglomerates. We would like to know why they opted not to participate despite their track record,” he said.
Ridon also asked whether there was coordination with transport agencies to ensure the success of the project.
“As previously mentioned, it is the DOTr that has jurisdiction and control over the country’s airports. It therefore begs the question: Is there already an existing contract between the Cavite provincial government and the DOTr on how the Sangley airport will be developed under the provincial PPP arrangement? Further, as the defense department also has jurisdiction over Sangley airbase, is there an existing contractual arrangement with the DND to ensure coordination over the development in their area?” he said.
Ridon also asked whether Cavite’s PPP was in conflict with the DOTr’s direction to use Sangley as the hub for general aviation and low-cost carriers.
“In the last few months, the DOTr has made much about the speed of construction of the rehabilitated Sangley airport. In fact, local carriers had been invited to transfer some of their flights to Sangley. As such, what will happen with these initiatives in the event that the Cavite PPP proposal is concluded and awarded to the sole bidder?” Ridon said.
Ridon said these were important questions that should be addressed by no less than the Senate, as any conflict with national government initiatives on Sangley could mean billions of pesos of taxpayers’ money going down the drain.