Con­gres­sional fran­chise sought for air­line, rail­way op­er­a­tors

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By JESS DIAZ – With Delon Por­calla

Pri­vate com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing rail­way and air­port fa­cil­i­ties need to ob­tain fran­chises from Congress, Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez said yes­ter­day.

Pan­ta­leon said these firms are con­sid­ered pub­lic util­i­ties like power dis­trib­u­tors and air­lines, and are re­quired by the Con­sti­tu­tion to seek con­gres­sional fran­chises.

He said the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr), which awards con­tracts to these com­pa­nies, should ad­vise them to com­ply with the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment.

Asked if the House would ask the Supreme Court to make a rul­ing should these pri­vate en­ti­ties refuse to fol­low the re­quire­ment, Al­varez said: “No, that is their prob­lem and of DOTr.”

“DOTr of­fi­cials will be asked to ac­count for such re­fusal or fail­ure dur­ing bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions and House in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Trans­porta­tion Un­der­sec­re­tary Raoul Creen­cia, the le­gal ba­sis for hir­ing pri­vate com­pa­nies to build or op­er­ate infrastructure projects like rail­ways and air­ports is the build-op­er­ate-trans­fer (BOT) law.

Creen­cia said the law does not re­quire these firms to ob­tain fran­chises from Congress.

All the law re­quires, he said, is for these en­ti­ties to seek con­ces­sion agree­ments from the ap­pro­pri­ate gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Al­varez ques­tioned the DOTr’s plan to pri­va­tize at least five in­ter­na­tional air­ports in the prov­inces.

He said the planned du­ra­tion of the con­tracts, which ranges from 30 years to 35 years, is too long.

“The gov­ern­ment builds these air­ports and we are giv­ing them to pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions on a sil­ver plat­ter. The pri­vate com­pa­nies will just do some im­prove­ments,” he said.

Creen­cia said in the case of the con­tro­ver­sial Ter­mi­nal 3 project of the Ni­noy Aquino In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the pro­po­nent in­vested in and built the en­tire com­plex.

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