Home » Ports/Terminals » Turn down SBMA request for poll ban exemption, Subic Bay cargo handlers ask Comelec

THREE of Subic Bay freeport’s biggest cargo-handling operators are asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to deny a Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) request for exemption from the election ban on midnight contracts.

SBMA is seeking a ban exemption so it can finally award the joint venture contract to operate the Naval Supply Depot (NSD) to Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc (HCPTI).

The Comelec received separate requests from Amerasia International Services, Inc (Amerasia), Subic Seaport Terminal, Inc (Subic Seaport) and Global Terminals and Development, Inc. (Global Terminals).

The three operators along with other Subic operators earlier filed graft and other charges before the Ombudsman against SBMA and HCPTI officials for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article186 of the Revised Penal Code on Combination in Restraint of Trade, Commerce and Free Competition when they agreed to enter into a joint venture agreement to operate the NSD.

In a letter to Comelec chairman Jose Melo, Amerasia legal counsel Atty. Eulalio Ventura claimed the SBMA-HCPTI contract will grant HCPTI a monopoly to operate in all existing usable wharves and ports at the freeport, thus compromising the contractual and vested rights of current locators and cargo-handling operators.

Global Terminals’ president and chief executive Rose Balde in a letter to the Comelec noted the “undue haste with which the SBMA conducted the evaluation and the rest of the processes involved in coming up with an award. It has even gone to the extent of requesting for an election ban exemption.”

Baldeo added, “We see no relevant consequence if the project will not be awarded immediately. The period from now until the election ban is lifted is crucial and may be enough for the courts to determine that indeed there is reason for the said project to be enjoined.”

Subic Seaport, on the other hand, claimed its petition to deny SBMA’s election ban exemption request has merit because HCPTI is supposedly not qualified as a joint venture partner since it lacks technical and financial capabilities.

It added HCPTI violated provisions of the 2008 National Economic and Development Authority rules, including the “massive evasion of payment of proposal security bid required by law.”

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