ROXAS: GOVT WILL ONLY PAY PIATCO, NOT FRAPORT

MANILA, November 5, 2003  (STAR) By Marianne Go - The Philippine government is not willing to pay Fraport AG any form of compensation apart from what it will pay the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco).

This was disclosed yesterday by Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who also heads the three-man oversight committee tasked to resolve the Piatco dispute.

Piatco was awarded the contract to build and operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) in 1997. However, the new state-of-the-art passenger terminal was not opened to the public following a string of controversies leading to the Supreme Court’s decision last May 6 to nullify Piatco’s contract with the government.

According to Roxas, the government is only willing to compensate Piatco for what it actually spent for NAIA-3 and not parties outside of Piatco because "it is not part of the Supreme Court decision" and specially since there are allegations of overpricing.

"Just compensation is just between the government and Piatco, the consortium," Roxas said.

The Fraport group, part of the Piatco consortium along with the Cheng family, had initially appeared willing to talk to government, but has since decided to bring its case to an international body — the World Bank — for resolution.

"The complainant with the World Bank is Fraport. So this is something that Piatco and Fraport have to talk about as partners... it’s something they have to resolve for themselves. Our position remains the same," Roxas stressed.

"We reject the contention that they (Fraport) will win in the World Bank because our position is that, first, one must agree to be part of arbitration for it to be binding, and we have not given that consent," Roxas said, adding that Fraport is merely "forum shopping."

In a related development, Sen. Joker Arroyo explained that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has not been able to proceed with the investigation of the Piatco dispute because Fraport has not submitted the pieces of evidence sought by the Committee.

Arroyo denied insinuations made by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. that the Committee appears to be foot-dragging on the investigation.

Arroyo said the senator should stop badgering the Blue Ribbon committee "because he does not know whereof he speaks."

He admitted though that Pimentel is familiar with the rules because he had previously chaired the committee. However, he said "he pretends such rules do not exist just so he can pick a quarrel even if in the process he abandons his innate nationalist moorings by waving blindly the colors of the German state of Hesse which owns Fraport AG."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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