‘Piatco not entitled to interest award’

The  Aquino administration  has asked the Supreme Court to modify its decision awarding just compensation to the Philippine International Air Terminals Company Inc., saying Piatco is not entitled to receive the amount of $326.93 million as payment for the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-International Passenger Terminal III.

In a  motion for reconsideration, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay pleaded the SC to delete the award of interests to Piatco in the amount of $242,810,918.54.

Solicitor General also asked the Court to deduct the amount of  $113,944,044, representing non-compliance with contract specifications by Piatco, from the principal amount of compensation due.

The chief state lawyer also urged the high court to fix the just compensation for Piatco at $163,959,441 less the proffered value of $59,438,604 already paid to Piatco.

“This is not an expropriation of land, but of a depreciating improvement on land. Thus, in fixing just compensation, the Honorable Court must take into account the fact that the government is taking property that is losing value over time,” Hilbay said.

The Solicitor General stressed that to impose a 12-percent interest would be tantamount to allowing Piatco to profit by its own misdeeds.

“If Piatco had not violated the laws, the government would have had a guaranteed return of P17.75 billion and the public would not have been severely inconvenienced for more than 10 years with an unfinished airport,” the chief state lawyer said.

Hilbay noted that while the government is willing to pay just compensation, the Court should not overlook that there are other claimants who are interested in a portion of just compensation.

Among these claimants were Fraport, an equity investor of Piatco for the NAIA IPT III project; and Takenaka and Asahikosan, the subcontractors which actually built the NAIA IPT II facility. 

Fraport has sued the government several times before the international arbitral tribunal while the dispute between Piatco and Takenaka and Asahikosan is still pending before the SC.

Because of this, the OSG said the SC should declare that any claim by Fraport, Takenaka and Asahikosan is enforceable only against the money to be paid by the government to Piatco.

It added that upon payment of just compensation, the Court should also award full ownership of the airport facility to the government free from any obligations to any of the claimants.

“In other words, just compensation should be equivalent to a clean title,” he added.

On September 9, the Court unanimously ordered the government to pay Piatco the principal total amount of  $326.93 million as just compensation for the NAIA-IPT  III. 

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