SC Rejects Manila Hotel Bid on NAIA 3 Row

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – The Supreme Court has rejected the bid of the Manila Hotel Corporation to grab the right to operate the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal saying that its decision on the case on December 2005 has long become final and executory.

In a three-page resolution issued on March 11, the High Tribunal denied the motion to intervene with prayer for In a three-page resolution issued on March 11, the High Tribunal denied the motion to intervene with prayer for alternative compliance in the case filed by MHC but has yet to act on the petition filed the Lucio Tan-controlled Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDC) asserting its right to operate the airport being the “unchallenged original proponent” of the project which the MHC is also an intervenor.

“Our 2005 Decision has long become final and executory. Generally, after judgment has become executory, the court cannot amend the same. On the other hand, a motion for intervention may be allowed only before rendition of judgment in the case. Clearly, the present intervention attempt is unauthorized under our rules of procedure,” the SC stressed.

In its December 2005 ruling, the Court directed the government to pay Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (Piatco) the amount of P3 billion representing the proffered value of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

It also ordered the Regional Trial Court to determine just compensation due to the claimants.

The MHC anchored it claim to operate the NAIA 3 on the ground that it had bought 20 percent of Piatco in 2005, and that it had an agreement with Fraport Fraport AG Frankfurt Services Worldwide for the purchase of its 30 percent equity shareholdings in Piatco for $200 million.

The MHC, which is controlled by Philtrust Bank owner Emilio Yap, urged the SC justices to allow it to operate and manage the NAIA Terminal 3 for 25 years, with 82.5 percent of the profits to be distributed to various government and charitable institutions.

It has proposed to donate annually 50 percent of any net profit from the Terminal-3 operations to the Philippine National Red Cross, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Caritas program of the Catholic Church, the armed forces and the police.

Aside from this “nationalistic fervor,” the petitioner asserted that it has legal interest in the case because it was partly owned by a government controlled corporation, namely the GSIS, and also because it has acquired the Piatco shares.

Since the December 2005 ruling has not yet been fully executed, the petitioner said it wanted to propose an alternative plan to “ease compliance with the said Decision by relieving the government from the huge financial burdens” involved in following the ruling.”

On the other hand, the AEDC, in its petition, asked the High Tribunal to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining respondents — Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza and the manila International Airport Authority — from negotiating, re-bidding or awarding the concession contract with Philippine International Air Terminal Co. Inc. (PIATCO) or any other parties, including the Manila Hotel Corporation.

AEDC stressed that the May 5, 2003 decision of the Court declaring null and void the award of contract for the construction and operation of NAIA – IPT III to Piatco has restored the group’s status as the “unchallenged original proponent” of NAIA – IPT III project.

Being so, AEDC said it is automatically entitled to the award of the contract in accordance with Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6957, as amended by Republic Act No. 7718 otherwise known as the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) Law.

The said provision, according to AEDC, “grants the original proponent with an incentive and advantage where, in the absence of any comparative or competitive proposal, the BOT project is automatically awarded to the original proponent. Or, in the event a lower price proposal is offered, the original proponent is given the right to match.”

The petitioner recounted that the AEDC, upon the request of the government, submitted its unsolicited proposal for the development of NAIA-IPT project on October 5, 1994 following the required procedures under the BOT law.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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