In a decision dated January 23, the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) found former President Noynoy Aquino’s cancellation of the Belgian firm’s P18 billion flood alleviation project to be ‘illegal and unfair.’
The cancellation, as Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao puts it, maked Aqunio stupid andarrogant.
The Manila Times reported that the decision prompted the Philippine government to pay a settlement amounting to P800 million. The amount is equal to what Belgian firm Baagerwerken Decloedt En Zoon (BDZ) has already invested in the country.
The amount also includes an interest payment from 2011 until January 2017. It can be remembered that Aquino binned the project around late 2010, months after the assumed the presidency.
Tiglao, in his column dated February 1, encouraged President Rodrigo Duterte to not use government funds to pay for the necessary fees but instead have Aquino and then Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima pay the P1 billion peso penalty given that combined, the two public officials are considered “billionaires.”
Tiglao reasoned that it wasn’t a decision that the Philippine Congress made buit rather Aquinosolely called for the cancellation. Moreover, Aquino did not even give BDZ a formal communication informing them of the projects termination.
It was Purisima who refused to sign the supporting documents such that the project can continue.
Tiglao stated, “If Aquino had not cancelled the project, it would have reduced flooding in Manila by 2012, the scheduled completion of the project, or four years ago. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made it a priority of her administration after Typhoon Milenyo broughtmassive flooding in Luzon and Metro Manila.
In the end, Tiglao said that if the Philippines pays the penalty required through government funds, it will “ go down in Philippine history as the country’s most tragic, most shameful episode in which P1 billion in in taxpayers’ money will be paid, hundreds of lives were taken, hundreds of thousands of flooded Filipinos put in misery because of the irresponsible ill-will of a President toward his predecessor.”
Duterte must not only make Aquino and Purisima pay for their arrogance and stupidity but also “for the suffering they’ve caused the nation.”