DOTC employees back Alvarez, hit calls for resignation
- Sheila Crisostomo () - May 25, 2002 - 12:00am
Employees of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) threw their full support behind Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez as they assailed the "advertisement barrage" mounted by groups opposing their chief’s confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA).

Ramon Cuyco, spokesman for the DOTC employees, said the MIA-NAIA Association of Service Operators (MASO) "has become desperate, resorting to tactics with malicious intent."

He cited MASO’s latest in a series of print advertisements, which accused Alvarez of corruption and anti-investor practices. MASO also called for the DOTC chief’s immediate resignation.

"This a pathetic display of desperation. MASO is resorting to lies and malicious innuendo in order to force the resignation of Secretary Alvarez, who is certain to be confirmed in his position by the CA," Cuyco said in a statement.

He said the issues brought up by the group had been fully explained and settled.

The employees said they fully believe Alvarez should not resign because of his solid accomplishments as head of the DOTC in the past 15 months.

Among the achievements noted were the adoption of the light railway expansion program; improvement of the Philippine National Railway, computerization of the department and attached agencies.

They also cited the review and revision of telecommunications regulations, improvement of major ports and airports and promotion of liberalized civil aviation policies.

"All the accusations made against Secretary Alvarez in the advertisement barrage were lies that have been repeated and rehashed many times, but all have been proven false. No less than the Ombudsman had dismissed the charges for lack of basis," the employees said.

Cuyco hit back at MASO, saying they are the ones scaring away foreign investors by constantly blocking legitimate government projects that do not suit their interests.

"MASO accuses Secretary Alvarez of turning off foreign investors but the fact is there has been a steady stream of foreign investments in the transportation and communications sectors due largely to the reforms initiated by the Secretary," he said.

Cuyco said MASO’s harassment tactics before the CA is scaring away foreign investors "because they are creating instability and anxiety in the department."

Last Tuesday, the CA held its fifth confirmation hearing on Alvarez’s appointment. Parties against the appointment charged that Alvarez influenced the award of the NAIA Terminal 3 contract to the Philippine International Air Transport Co. (PIATCO) and of a P200-million sub-contract to Wintrack, a family-owned enterprise.

The CA has decided to devote the entire session next Wednesday to hearing the last parties opposed to Alvarez’s confirmation.
Legal or illegal?
The chairman of the House committee on good government hinted yesterday that the panel has already upheld the legality of the PIATCO concession contract.

Rep. Roy Elias (NPC, Davao) said his committee has completed the report on the inquiry on the controversial contract to build the NAIA Terminal 3.

"After reviewing all the documents and hearing all the sides of the issue, in my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with the contract," Elias said during the weekly Balitaan sa Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City.

Lopez said the agreement was in accordance with the build-operate-transfer law and was not disadvantageous to the government.

However, MASO chairman Perfecto Yasay, who was also a guest at the forum, insisted that the agreement was illegal.

He said the contract exposes the government to financial risk, considering that the $650-million total obligation of PIATCO from foreign investors would be thrown back to the government in case there is a breach of the agreement.

The House committee is expected to submit the report next week.– With Perseus Echeminada

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