Ombudsman asked to probe P17-B Davao port project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 May) — Former Davao City councilor Peter Lavina has written the Office of the Ombudsman to look into the proposal of the Department of Transportation and Communication to undertake a P17-billion expansion of the Sasa port through public-private partnership scheme.

Lavina, in a letter dated Monday, May 18, asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to examine the price of the proposed Sasa Port in Davao City.

The former councilor said he was one of those pushing for the expansion of the port during his term at the 15th Council.

The item has been discussed several times at the current city council, with local officials saying they were not aware of the exact details of the project.

During the city council’s regular session last week, port manager Leonilo Miole told the councilors he did not know the full details of the expansion project, and that the idea came from the national office of the Philippine Ports Authority.

The City Planning and Development Office, for its part, said it could not comment on the issue as all the ideas for the expansion came from the PPA.

In an interview Monday, CPDO head Marcelino Escalada said the city was not privy to the details of the port expansion project as well.

Lavina told reporters at Monday’s edition of the Kapehan sa SM that he will “closely monitor” the issue until the awarding of the project.

“We are not against the modernization at Sasa port, but this PPP stinks!” Lavina said. Ultimately, the burden will be passed on us the taxpayers, port users and consumers.”

Lavina and several councilors have publicly questioned the project cost, which was initially pegged at P4 billion in 2013 and later priced at P17 billion.

The local PPA office last week promised it would invite its national office to a meeting with the city council.

In an interview Tuesday, PPP specialist Alberto Agra said the minimum courtesy for projects like the Sasa modernization plan would be to involve all stakeholders even as early as the study phase. (MindaNews)