Piatco evicts NAIA 3 concessionaires

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2010 06:29 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2010 05:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The builder of the biggest international passenger facility at the Manila airport is asking lessees to stop doing business at the terminal due to the pending ownership issue of the building.

In a letter dated October 19, the lawyers of Piatco, the consortium that won the right to build and operate the terminal, demanded that the concessionaires at the NAIA 3 "cease and desist from occupying, using or operating any part of NAIA Terminal 3."

"The right to exercise acts of ownership remains with Piatco until ownership is transferred to the government upon payment of "just compensation," the letter stressed.

"Any person using the facility without authority from Piatco violates Piatco's rights of ownership as well as the RTC (Regional Trial Court) Order affirmed by the Supreme Court in Gingoyon," it added.

'Deal with us'

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Piatco president Moises Tolentino said the letter did not give a deadline to the concessionaires, but their demand calls for an "immediate" action.

Terminal concessionaires include budget airlines Cebu Pacific and Airphil Express, and several restaurants and other retail outlets.

Tolentino said the letter is asking the concessionaires to deal with Piatco instead of the government-run Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which currently manages the terminal and approves lease contracts with the concessionaires.

Meantime, MIAA General Manager Jose Hondrado said all parties must wait for the final decision of the court before making demands.

Honrado advised Piatco to deal with MIAA and not go directly to the concessionaires.

Just compensation

Behind Piatco are German firm Fraport, the Cheng family, and the group of Manila Hotel businessman Emilio Yap. Their contract was unilaterally voided by the Philippine government in 2002 amid allegations of corruption and impropriety.

The eviction notice, which was prepared by Piatco's lawyers from the Quasha Ancheta Peña & Nolasco law firm, cited the issue of building ownership as defined by the Supreme Court's decision in 2006.

The Supreme Court had favored the Philippine government when the latter asked to expropriate the building. However, ownership of the building could only be transferred to the Philippine government after Piatco is paid its "just compensation" or the reimbursement of the costs of the nearly finished terminal before construction was stopped in 2002.

Some P3 billion has already been paid as a downpayment to the Piatco consortium members in 2006, paving for the partial opening of the terminal in July 2008.

The funds came from the MIAA, which is currently managing the operations at NAIA 3.

The entire value of the terminal--from which the P3 billion proferred value will be deducted--has yet to be arrived at. A committee has been assigned by the Pasay Regional Trial Court to hire technical consultants who will determine the cost of the terminal building and compare the specs against the original building plans.

The lengthy valuation process has delayed the payment of "just compensation" to Piatco.

Piatco has claimed that it has cost them $565 million to build the the terminal.

However, the Singapore-based arbitration tribunal International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has denied Piatco's reimbursement claim in its July 2010 award. -- with reports from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News