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Seven in short list of choices for Terminal 3 assessor

[ manilastandardtoday.com ] July 29, 2008

THE government and the builders of Terminal 3 of Manila’s international airport will re-nominate at least seven different companies to assess the value of the passenger terminal after the Supreme Court overruled a Pasay City judge who named a company that was not even nominated by both parties.

Manila International Airport Authority general manager Alfonso Cusi said the assessor’s appointment would hasten payment to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc., the consortium that built the terminal before it was expropriated in December 2004, and allow the government to finally operate the recently opened facility.

“We are submitting the same names that we gave to the court before [Pasay City Branch 117 Judge Jesus] Mupas picked D.G. Jones & Partners Philippines Inc. We expect Piatco to do the same,” Cusi said in an interview.

He said the government would re-nominate assessors Gleeds, Ove Arup & Partners, and Gensler Architecture, Design & Planning Worldwide, while Piatco was expected to propose Turner & Townsend; Franklin+Andrew; Cushaman & Wakefield Valuation; and LECG LLC.

The Supreme Court barred the appointment of D.G. Jones earlier this month after the government questioned the firm’s compensation fee of $1.9 million.

“The appraiser’s fee amounting to almost $2 million is too much,” Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera had said when the government asked the Supreme Court to stop the appointment.

“Besides, D.G. Jones was not listed in any submission by the parties; it was only the court that designated it. Since it is the government that will be paying for that, we believe that it should be subjected to a selection process.”

The government paid Piatco P3 billion two years ago after the Supreme Court dumped the project’s build-operate-transfer contract for being grossly disadvantageous to the government.

But presidential aide Michael Defensor, who heads a task force for the new terminal, said the consortium had hinted that it would be willing to compromise so the government could complete the payment of P1 billion.

Piatco has been claiming $565 million as compensation, while Fraport is asking for a $425-million settlement for its investment in the expropriated facility.

“The final valuation should be resolved soon, especially since we are expecting international flights by Aug. 8,” Defensor said.

“Arriving at a compromise should not be that problematic since both sides are open to arriving at a compromise.”

Last week, the government said Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific had agreed to use Terminal 3 for “dry runs” while the government was trying to settle the ownership dispute over the facility.

But foreign airlines have refused to move to the terminal out of fear the courts may reject future contracts with the airport authority.

Devanadera said it was more important to have a “universal” ruling on the terminal’s ownership, which would also settle the arbitration cases that were still pending before the Washington-based International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and the Singapore-based International Chamber of Commerce.

“Otherwise, what will happen to those cases abroad?” Devanadera said.

“We may have settled [the disputes] in our local court, but they will just keep on appealing the cases abroad. The cost of litigation is very high, something they can easily afford while we are already having a hard time.” Joyce Pangco Pañares

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