RDC-12 wants Palace to probe P40-M airport project

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao is seeking the intervention of Malacanang over the alleged irregularities involving the P40-million unfinished airport renovation project here.

City Mayor and RDC chair Darlene Magnolia Antonino-Custodio said Monday they are set to file a request before the office of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to direct an investigation over the “questionable” implementation of the project, which was reportedly abandoned abruptly by its contractor last December.

“The overall work was substandard and based on its scope of work there were a lot of items or components that were not delivered, among them the air-conditioning units,” the mayor said.

Custodio said among the evidences of the project’s poor works were the peeling paints and the ill-installed moldings in some portions of the supposed renovated and expanded airport terminal building.

She said the facility currently appears in disarray and there were also some structures that could pose harm to passengers.

These findings were detailed in an inspection report submitted by the RDC’s Regional Project Monitoring Committee that the council is set to submit to the Office of the President, she said.

Nathaniel Nazareno, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officer and city airport manager, earlier said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) allocated some P20 million for the renovation of the airport terminal and another P10 million for the construction of its perimeter fence.

The Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority added an additional P10 million for the construction of a covered walk as part of the project’s initial phase.

According to the DOTC’s website, it had awarded the contract for the “General Santos Airport Development Project” to B. Vicencio Construction at a contract price of P29.347 million.

Based on the initial project details, Nazareno said it would cover the improvement, widening and renovation of the baggage claim and welcome area that would feature a longer carousel that would handle more incoming baggage and luggage and checked-in cargo.

He said a conveyor would be set up behind the counters of the check-in area to speed up the movement of checked-in luggage of departing passengers while additional seats would be installed at the widened pre-departure area of the terminal building.

Custodio, who personally lobbied for the release of the P20-million funding for the airport terminal’s renovation while she was still representing South Cotabato’s first congressional district in the House of Representatives, said they have been trying to secure a copy of the project’s updated scope of work but that they were so far unsuccessful.

She said the local CAAP office did not have a copy of the project’s pertinent documents as the implementation was all handled by its national office.

In their letter to the President, the mayor said they are seeking the conduct of a separate investigation by the DOTC central office and the Commission on Audit (COA) on the matter.

“The more vital (move) here is asking the COA to come in,” Custodio added.

The international-standard airport, which opened in 1996, was constructed through a US$50-million grant from the United States Agency for International Development.

The airport, which was built to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft, is presently serving at least four flights daily to Manila and Cebu through the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)