Panglao Bohol Airport Corruption

By Sunday Post
The opening of bids for the construction of the Panglao Bohol International Airport Phase 1, Package 1 has been moved to February 5 instead of January 25.

  Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, go-getter for the P7.5-billion project of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said closure of the dropping of bids and subsequent opening was postponed by 11 days to accommodate more bidders who expressed intention of participating in the process.

  Contrary to the sender's letter that said dropping of bids will be on January 25 yet, 14 bidders have in fact dropped bids as of December 14.

  Aumentado who chairs the Panglao Island Tourism Development Inter-Agency Task Force (PITD IA-TF) that has at least five Cabinet members in it has repeatedly impressed upon the task force that the bidding must be open, competitive, transparent and with accountability.

  However, Bohol will have no hand in the bidding process as the MIAA, being the implementing agency, is handling it.

  Aumentado said the latest delay of a matter of a few days will not imperil the project. Instead, he expressed elation over the development when informed that the new participants are "heavyweights" in the airport construction industry.

  "But there is no favored bidder," the governor said in reaction to an email sent by Corruption Watch Philippines (CWP) with email address of Cwpafrica@yahoo.com.

  The email sender had challenged the provincial government of Bohol to disprove that the project will be awarded to C.M. Pancho Construction – allegedly still blacklisted by the World Bank – in consideration of P100 million reportedly arranged by NDG or Nards de Guzman, Aumentado's trusted man.

  De Guzman came with the representatives of the bidders who conducted on January 12 an ocular inspection of Brgy. Tawala in Panglao – site of the runway and terminal building for which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo broke ground on May 20, 2008, it does not mean that he has arranged a shadowy deal, the governor emphasized.

  De Guzman helps him arrange meetings with Cabinet officials whenever he goes to Manila to follow up projects but not to negotiate with any contractor or contractors for cuts in rigged biddings.

  "I have always adhered to the principles of transparency and accountability. The bidding for the Panglao Airport, of which the province has no participation except to wait for MIAA's Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to announce the winner is no exception," he stressed.

  Besides, he said, the sender apparently is not abreast with its facts considering that as early as January last year, the company had already caused the publication in a national broadsheet that the World Bank has already cleared it from bid-rigging and colluding with other firms and officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and that it will never resort to bribery and corrupt practices to earn or win its contracts.

  "The charges against CM Pancho are all false and baseless. Contrary to the erroneous content of the news items, CM Pancho was in fact cleared by the World Bank in its aforesaid decision of any charges of alleged corrupt, unsound and fraudulent practices," it said.

  "CM Pancho has likewise not colluded with any 'cartel' of the participating firms or any DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] official in the bidding process of NRIMP1 as it submitted legitimate bids, which can be justified up to the last centavo," it added.

  Aumentado also said the sender apparently has not been to Bohol lately to to apprise  
his group of the situation at the check in, pre-departure and parking areas of the Tagbilaran Airport.

  Booking for flights except when done months ahead of departure, is already an ordeal, not to mention that tourist arrivals have been increasing due to aggressive campaigns for eco-cultural, heritage, adventure and even agricultural tourism.