Villar Group offers to take over Iloilo airport

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The group of real estate magnate and former senator Manuel Villar Jr. has submitted an unsolicited proposal for the operation, maintenance and expansion of a regional airport and may soon get the upper hand in the project.

Transportation Undersecretary for planning Ruben Reinoso told The STAR that the Villar Group submitted “recently” an unsolicited offer to operate, maintain and expand the Iloilo International Airport.

“We endorsed it to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for grant of OPS (original proponent status),” Reinoso said.

The Villar group has expressed its interest to expand its real estate and mall empire by venturing into the infrastructure sector, particularly airports.

Villar, the country’s second richest man according to the Forbes Philippines 2018 Rich List, is into various businesses such as malls, home, hotels and memorial park. The group’s PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp. has also been investing in safe and reliable water distribution systems throughout the country.

His son, Mark Villar, currently serves as Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary.

“Airports are under CAAP and the Department of Transportation, not DPWH,” Reinoso said when asked on if there will be any concerns of possible conflict of interest should the group bags the airport project.

Under the previous administration, the development, as well as operations and maintenance of five regional airports in Davao, Iloilo, Laguindingan, Bacolod, and Panglao were offered for bidding as a public-private partnership project.

The current administration, however, has preferred to offer the airports individually rather than as one bundle.

In October, Reinoso told The STAR that the Aboitiz group has submitted an unsolicited proposal to operate and maintain the Laguindingan airport. The proposal is still under review.

The Aboitiz group in September has secured the OPS for its unsolicited proposal to operate, maintain, and expand the Panglao International Airport.

Meanwhile, Dennis Uy’s Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and Mega7 Construction Corp. have secured OPS for their offers to expand, operate and manage the Davao and Kalibo international airports, respectively.

Securing an OPS gives a proponent the right to match offers from other parties when a Swiss challenge is conducted for the project.

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