STAKEHOLDERS in the proposed US$206- million (approximately P9.8 billion) Cebu International Container Port (CICP) are calling on Malacañang and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) “not to rush” approval of the project.
According to sources familiar with the issue but who declined to be named for the moment, the deal can be described as a ‘midnight deal’ of the Aquino administration with Filipino taxpayers and the government footing the bill later on.
Based on available documents, the new port is to rise in Bgy. Tayud, Consolacion.
The new port is expected to handle sea-based cargo traffic from the existing Cebu International Port (CIP) located several kilometers away in Mandaue City. The ground breaking was supposed to happen last month with completion date set on 2019.
Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEDCF) shall provide 80 percent of the financing as Korean experts’ own study disclosed that despite grandiose promises by its main proponent, Cebu Port Authority (CPA) general manager, Edmund Tan, the entire project “has poor financial viability.”
Critics also averred that despite the amount involved, no bidding was announced by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya Jr., which could have “alerted” other interested companies to submit bids that can give a better deal for both government and taxpayers.
“Apparently, this P9.8 billion project was ‘rush-rush,’ ‘hush-hush.’
“It has been kept hidden by its proponents from scrutiny. Even the LGUs (local government units) concerned were by-passed and totally ignored.
“Also, stakeholders in the adjacent communities where the project is eyed to be built were said to have been kept in the dark how such an undertaking would impact their lives or their immediate environs,” the sources claimed.
Citing the “poor financial viability” of the project as acknowledged by the Koreans themselves, stakeholders warned that the government, by its guaranteeing of the loan, may end up saddling taxpayers with another financial burden.
“The government provides guaranty in the payment of ODA loans. While Filipinos will have to cough up monies for the principal amount and interest, the development assistance will largely benefit Korea,” the sources claimed.
For ‘consultancy’ and ‘management’ fees, alone, Korean firms and engineers would be paid a total of US$ 9 million, or roughly P414 million, they pointed out.
“We must also remember that there are strings attached to the extended loan -- the concept of “tied aid” or “foreign aid” provided by the donor country which must be used for goods (or services) produced by the lender country.
“In the end, this boils down to the Filipino taxpayers later paying for the entire project cost, including interest on the Eximbank loan. Iginisa lang tayo sa sariling mantika,” the sources stressed.
The concerned stakeholders also wondered how come Edmund Tan remains at the helms of the CPA despite an order by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for all Aquino appointees to vacate their respective posts effective last month due to his observation that “corruption” still hounds the executive branch.
The NEDA Board’s Investment Coordination Committee was supposed to deliberate on the project last July 27, after which it would be submitted to Pres. Duterte for approval.