Another NBN-ZTE scam in the making?

PNS — A SCAM believed to be more disastrous than the scrapped National Broadband Network (NBN) deal three years ago is expected to rock the seven-month old Aquino administration.

Thus warned concerned employees and experts from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), in relation to the country’s air traffic control modernization project left behind by the Macapagal Arroyo administration at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“We are calling on Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus, to seriously consider their decision to proceed with the communication, navigation surveillance and air traffic management, CNS/ATM project for our international airport. Unless nipped in the bud, this P13.5 billion “behemoth” has the makings of another NBN-ZTE scandal,” sources warned.

They are referring to the mothballed $329 million national broadband (NBN) project in 2007 of the DOTC which was to be financed by a loan from the Chinese government.

Whistleblower Jun Lozada later on testified in the Senate and implicated ranking officials of the Arroyo administration. The scandal is now under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

The sources said Pres. Aquino should take a “second look” at the first phase of CNS/ATM costing some Y9 billion (P4 billion), which was recently awarded to Sumitomo of Japan and Thales of France. The terms said it would be financed thru Japan’s ‘official development assistance’ (ODA) to the Philippines.

Sources said the procurement of the project is defective in the first place, and the new DOTC management should have exerted due diligence before hastily awarding it to Sumitomo-Thales.

The second phase, also being eyed by Sumitomo/Thales, is set for bidding and would cost taxpayers over P9 billion for the purchase of radars and other sophisticated air traffic monitoring equipment.

Thales, in its press statement last January 10, said the project covers, among others, the deployment of Thales’ “latest generation Eurocat ATM system nationwide and the construction of a new ATC operations center.

“This deal smells of corruption in high places that it would also be to our people’s interest if the Senate also steps in to clarify this controversy once and for all,” the sources added.