BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Despite allegations of corruption against it, the P18.99 billion Sasa Port Modernization Project will be implemented by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The multi-billion project, awarded as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project at the tail-end of former President Benigno Aquino’s administration, is located in Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte.
The award of one of the biggest projects in Mindanao was met with opposition by some sectors alleging over-pricing and anomaly in the award.
Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC), said the green light for the mega-project would be given as soon as issues and concerns are settled.
“Give me time,” said Tugade in a November 24 press conference in Davao City.
Tugade assured the DoTC would push through with the project but did not give a timeline.
He said DoTC would conduct a multi-sectoral consultation prior to making a decision.
President Duterte has ordered conduct of a consultation with all stakeholders, Tugade said.
Tugade said the Sasa Port modernization is essential to the shipping and marine transport industry and would help spur the economic growth of Mindanao.
The Sasa Port, located in the Davao Gulf, is the biggest government port in Southern Mindanao.
Tugade said he welcomed criticismsagainst the project and the consultation would focus on issues raised.
Former Davao City councilor Peter Lavina, now undersecretary at the office of the Cabinet Secretary of President Duterte, earlier before the project was awarded, had sought a probe by the House of Representatives over allegations of corruption on the project cost that ballooned from its initial cost of P4 billion to P19 billion.
At the same time, city councilor Danilo Dayanghirang also steered an investigation by the Davao City Council alleging anomalies in the project and lack of consultation with the local government.