Press Release
January 2, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged Malacañang to revive the efforts to negotiate an out-of-court settlement of the dispute over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 to avoid further delay in the completion and opening of the aviation facility in the wake of the slaying of Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge Henrick Gingoyon who was handling the case.

Pimentel said that since the case pending with the court sala of Judge Gingoyon essentially involved the issue of reasonable compensation to the private contractor, Philippine International Air Terminals Company (Piatco), for the governments takeover of NAIA-3, this should be resolved through negotiations among the parties to the litigation.

He warned that if the case will remain with the courts, it would take an inordinately long time to resolve especially with the death of Gingoyon and the expected transfer of the case to another judge.

Pimentel said that this adverse turn of events could derail the governments revised plan to open and start commercial operations of NAIA-3 in the first quarter of 2006.

He said the country could ill afford to see the state-of-the-art air terminal remaining a white elephant because it is badly needed to cope with increasing number of air passengers and to attract more foreign tourists and investors.

I am worried that if we fail to operate the NAIA-Terminal 3, its facilities and equipment will deteriorate and be rendered unusable, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said the court litigation would not have dragged on had the government not contested the ruling of Judge Gingoyon to immediately pay Piatco and other investors a $63 million (about P3 billion) downpayment.

Judge Gingoyon also ordered the formation of a three-man panel of experts that would determine the reasonable compensation that should be paid to Piatco.

Despite the fact that the government has supposedly deposited the $63 million to an escrow account in the Land Bank of the Philippines, Pimentel said the government has resisted the settlement of the financial obligation even after the Supreme Court upheld Gingoyons order.

Instead, the government has changed its mind by telling the courts that it was willing to pay only $9 million downpayment.

The minority leader said the filing by the government, through Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo, of a motion for reconsideration with the high tribunal would only add to the constraints to the opening of NAIA-3 within the revised schedule.

Pimentel said an out-of-court settlement of the dispute is the most logical and acceptable option left especially in view of reports that the government is negotiating a $300 million loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines to be used for paying Piatco and the creditors.

He said even the cases filed by Piatco and its foreign partner, Fraport of Germany, pending with two international tribunals abroad, will become moot and academic and be automatically dropped if an out-of-court settlement is worked out among the parties to the NAIA-3 dispute.

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