Piatco appeals CA ruling on $6-M legal expenses

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) has appealed a Court of Appeals (CA) order for payment of $6 million in legal expenses to the government in an earlier arbitration case.

In a 48-page motion for reconsideration filed recently, the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCO) insisted that payment of legal expenses to the government – including legal fees for lawyers led by the late Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno – violates laws.

The firm asked the CA’s 17th Division to reverse its ruling last January that upheld the government’s claims and which reversed the earlier ruling of the Muntinlupa City regional trial court. 

PIATCO instead asked the CA to reinstate the decision of Mandaluyong RTC that declared the legal expenses by the government invalid for lack of public bidding and budget appropriation.

Feliciano and Sereno and their team lawyered for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority in defending the government in the expropriation of NAIA-3 before an international arbitration tribunal.

They won the case for the government. Sereno, who was a commercial law expert prior to her appointment to the SC, was reportedly supposed to receive P16 million in attorney’s fees for the case.

In the assailed ruling, the CA held that PIATCO should pay for the legal expenses as the losing party to the case.

The CA held that there can never be an offsetting of payments since the government was also indebted to pay PIATCO for the construction of NAIA-3.

The CA nullified the RTC ruling, which held that the arbitration costs and expenses were incurred in violation of government policy mandating public bidding.

In favoring PIATCO, the trial court also cited the “long-standing policy against the incurrence of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures or use of funds and property by the government.”


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