DOTr gives go-signal to SMC for airport groundbreaking

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) can proceed any time with the actual construction of a new international airport in Bulacan despite the clarifications being sought by the Department of Finance (DOF) on certain provisions in the concession agreement. 

“In my opinion, I don’t see any problem for the groundbreaking to start. Actually, developments caught up with us. Construction should have started in the first week of January but Mr. (Ramon) Ang encountered some personal issues. We don’t want to add pressure or push the project while he has personal problems,” Depatment of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

“I believe though that in due time we will groundbreak,” he said.

Tugade clarified that the DOF was not asking for a revision.“ The DOF is just trying to clarify certain provisions to make sure that the interest of the government is protected,” he said.

“A contract has been signed and if there will be some modifications or clarifications, not one party can do that. It’s got to be a bilateral agreement because the contract has been signed already,” Tugade said.

Transportation undersecretary for planning and project development Ruben Reinoso said one of the issues the DOF is seeking clarification on is the joint and several undertakings issued by the project’s proponent, San Miguel Holdings Corp.

Reinoso said the joint and several undertaking was issued as San Miguel Holdings could not  finance the undertaking on its own as its net worth would not be able to provide the equity for the project.

“What the DOF wants is that the parent corporation will also be joint and severally liable to the liabilities of the proponent corporation, not only the equity. That is something we have to bring back to the proponent,” Reinoso said.

He said SMC could in fact proceed with the groundbreaking anytime, assuming that the company’s financiers will be comfortable in releasing the money for the project even as the clarifications  have yet to be addressed.

Reinoso said SMC is ready to break ground for the massive airport project.  It has already chosen a contractor and secured an environmental compliance certificate.

He said the company has also submitted all their nominated partners to operate the airport.

Among these are prominent airport operators Aeroports de Paris of France, South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp., Narita International Airport Corp. of Japan, and Singapore’s Changi Airport Group.

The $15-billion Bulacan airport project, also referred to as the New Manila International Airport, will be built on a 2,400-hectare property in Bulakan, Bulacan.

It will have four runways, eight taxiways and three terminals and be able to handle up to 100 million passengers per year once fully completed in five years.

SMC will undertake the financing, design, construction and operation  of the new international gateway, which is expected to ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s main international gateway. 

Ang said that as part of preparatory work for the airport, the company had already hired expert foreign consultants to study the flooding situation in Bulacan.

They have identified the rivers, creeks, tributaries, and bodies of water that need to be cleaned, deepened, widened, and improved to address flooding in the province.

Ang said the new airport could bring in as much as 30 million tourists and create jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipinos.

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