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Bulacan airport groundbreaking on hold —Ramon Ang


This month’s groundbreaking for the P735-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan was put on hold due to issues regarding the contract, proponent San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) chief said over the weekend.

Concerns about the project were raised by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“May mga bago na namang issue daw. Meron na namang tinatanong na kung ano ano,” SMC president and COO Ramon Ang said on the sidelines of the Alabang-Skyway viaduct opening ceremony.

The San Miguel chief said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade received a letter stating the concerns raised on the airport project’s contract.

“May pinadala na sulat sa kanya... Delayed na ‘yung groundbreaking dahil on hold,” Ang said.

Tugade told reporters during the viaduct opening ceremony that the issues raised by Dominguez regarding the contract were “not even a major concern.”

“It’s an issue of wordings and interpretation, kaya isinama sa Department of Justice review,” the Transport chief said.

“Itong ‘yung MAGA (material adverse government action) and liability cap,” Tugade noted.

The MAGA clause entitles the private sector project proponent to compensation from the government in case of material adverse government action during the operation and maintenance of the concession and the proponent incurs additional costs or revenue loss.

“Ang liability issue … is in relation to performance and deliverable,” Tugade said.


Dominguez is not opposing the airport project, Tugade emphasized.

“Gusto lang niya makita ‘yung sinasabi namin na in favor of government maklaro. He is not making any objection,” he said.

On August 14, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) formally awarded the contract to build and operate the Bulacan airport project to San Miguel Holdings Corp. , the infrastructure unit of SMC.

Tugade and Ang signed the concession deal for the New Manila International Airport on September 18, a month and four days after SMC received the notice of award for the contract.

Under the concession agreement, San Miguel will undertake the financing, design, construction, supply, completion, testing, commissioning, and operation and maintenance (O&M) of the new gateway. The concession is for 50 years after the company completes constructing its initial phase.

San Miguel intended to start the construction phase by the end of 2019, and begin commercial operations in four to six years.

An unsolicited proposal from San Miguel, the Bulacan airport was approved by the NEDA Board—chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte—on April 26 subject to the resolution of pending issues, including the joint and several liability agreements by San Miguel Holdings and parent San Miguel Corporation.

San Miguel’s P735-billion proposal to build and operate the airport went uncontested during the opening of bids last July 31.

Vital to decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)—now operating at overcapacity, the Bulacan airport has a design capacity of 100 million to 200 million passengers per year, with four parallel runways for faster processing of flights and aircraft.

The project involves the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 2,500-hectare airport in Bulacan. The development includes a passenger terminal building with airside and landside facilities, an airport toll road, and four runways.

It includes an 8.4-kilometer tollway connecting the airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan. —VDS, GMA News

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