By Macon Araneta

Sen. Grace Poe urged the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to work together to pursue the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

She noted that NAIA should be fixed at the soonest possible time while passengers are still hesitant to travel amid the pandemic.

As MIAA recently revoked the original proposal of Megawide Construction Corp. for the NAIA rehabilitation project, the chances of it being completed by 2022 continues to dim. 

Megawide was given the project after it was taken from the super consortium in July.

“The Senate is just a little worried it took two years for MIAA and the DOTr to discuss for the first proponent. This is it again ,” Poe said.

When the COVID-19 lockdown occurred in March, the poor facilities at NAIA stood out after thousands were stranded at the airport for days. 

Even before that, the congestion in NAIA caused many OFWs to miss their flights.

The MIAA had cited the NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee’s findings on Megawide’s equity as the reason for the revocation of its original proponent status. 

However, NEDA skipped the Senate hearing and referred questions on the NAIA rehabilitation project to the DOTr and the MIAA.

Poe said the  Senate has oversight function. “We are just wondering what happened here. We want to follow proper procedure. If there’s violation, they should start again. In the meantime, don’t close the opportunity for this company to rectify the situation within a reasonable time.”

The MIAA is scheduled to have another board meeting before the end of the year and the DOTr said Megawide can still appeal or seek a reconsideration.

Poe expressed surprise over the unilateral decision to revoke Megawide’s original proponent status without seeking its side on the matter.

“I don’t know why you didn’t get their side from the beginning,” Poe told MIAA. 

“If possible, instead of starting over, maybe you can give them a chance to rectify or clarify certain requirements,” she added. 

The Senate will conduct another hearing on the NAIA rehabilitation with specific instructions for the NEDA to attend and clarify matters. Poe warned that NEDA will be sanctioned if it fails to attend the next hearing.

The revocation of Megawide’s original proponent status has been blamed largely on the NEDA’s doubts on its financial capacity to undertake the project. 

Megawide will be undertaking the project with GMR of India which has more than ample equity. Megawide attempted to address the concerns on its equity by raising additional funds and earmarking over PHP1.58 billion, specifically for the rehabilitation of NAIA. The PHP1.58 billion is its computation for the additional equity it needs for its share in the project.