INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION ON NAIA3 ROW SOUGHT  

Manila, March 11, 2003 -- The International Court of Arbitration (ICA) gave the Arroyo administration 30 days to comment on the petition of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) for arbitration over the current stand-off in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) International Passenger Terminal 3 project.

"The Piatco board of directors and all its stockholders decided to hale the Philippine government to the Paris-based ICA after all our efforts, based on the Supreme Court Dec. 10, 2002 directive to strike a solution to the NAIA-3 impasse, were ignored by the government," lawyer Moises Tolentino told a press conference yesterday.

ICA Secretariat counsel-in-charge Toshiki Enomoto acknowledged receipt of the complaint. The ICA then informed the government of the decision of the international body to place the dispute under its jurisdiction, requiring the Philippine government, through the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Manila International Airport Authority, to submit its reply in a month's time.

In November, President Arroyo declared null and void the deal between the government and Piatco, saying the developer had breached several key terms.

The decision to scrap the contract signed by a previous administration came after allegations of corruption and soaring costs that swelled to $657 million the project's original price tag of $350 million.

Construction of the terminal is complete but the facility has yet to open. Government officials concerned with the airport project were not immediately available for comment.

Piatco whose members include Germany's Fraport AG, Japan's Nissho Iwai Corp. and several domestic firms won a 25-year build, operate and transfer concession for Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in 1997.

The contract row went to the country's Supreme Court, which ordered the parties to try arbitration or mediation. (Tribune)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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