Home » Maritime » Legal woes seen with ro-ro project cancellation

THE Aquino administration is prepared to go through international litigation with its decision to junk the roll on-roll off port project approved by the previous administration.

President Benigno Aquino III recently said the country only needs six more modular ro-ro ports, not the 72 stipulated under the project signed by the Arroyo government with French contractor Eiffel-Matiere SAS.

The decision to cancel will save the country about P15 billion, according to Aquino.

Under the contract, Eiffel-Matiere can sue the Philippines in international courts because it agreed to international litigation in case of contract cancellation.

“(Transport) Secretary (Mar) Roxas and his people made a study. It appears we only need six but 72 are now under contract. What’s even more painful is that these ports were placed in dangerous areas” characterized by strong waves, President Aquino said in a speech during the inauguration of a new municipal hall in Trinidad, Bohol.

He said the modular ports were to have been situated in the wrong locations “so there’s no warranty. When you complete them, the warranty is immediately void. When damaged, we’d again have to build.

“Let me just add, we will cancel these contracts and it is said that we would be taken to court by the contractors. When they file a case, it would be painful because my (predecessor) allowed that we be taken to court overseas.

“It’s like boxing but where your hands are tied, your feet are tied, you’re blindfolded and even your ears have been covered. How can we win under such agreements? But we’re doing what’s proper and I’m sure that with your help, there’s no doubt we can resolve this.”

The 72 modular ports, popularly known as the GMA (Greater Maritime Access) Ports, were originally programmed to be completed by 2012.

Isabela, Aurora, Pangasinan, Quezon, Romblon, Mindoro Cavite, Palawan, Masbate, Albay, Eastern Samar, Surigao del Norte, Davao and Cotabato were initially named recipients of the modular ports.

Late last month, the Philippine Ports Authority said there was no demand for the 72 modular steel ports and said it was it was putting most of its efforts on improving existing facilities.

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