By Denise A. Valdez
THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation (DoTr) may drop the proposal of a consortium made up of some of the country’s major conglomerates to take over Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) rehabilitation if it is unable to finalize its contract terms for the project by next month.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said in a media briefing on Tuesday that he wants a definite decision on the group’s proposal by end-April, as discussions on its concession terms have been under way since September last year.
“Doon sa NAIA, merong consortium of seven dyan kung saan tumatagal na ’yung usapan. Kaya sinabi ko, gusto ko na lagyan ng cap. Sabi ko by April 30, pag hindi pa tayo nagkasundo-sundo, gagawin na namin ’yung mga proyekto on the DoTr side. Kasi gusto ko mapabilis ’yung desisyon sa unsolicited proposal ng consortium (On the NAIA rehabilitation, there is a consortium of seven that has been taking long to firm up its proposal. So I wanted to put a cap to this. I told them that if we have not agreed on anything by April 30, the DoTr will do what it can on its own, because I want a quick decision on the consortium’s unsolicited proposal),” he said.
Asked to clarify what the DoTr will do with the proposal past Apr. 30, Mr. Tugade said, “Ang sasabihin ko, ayaw ko nang makipag-usap sa consortium of seven (I will say I don’t want to talk to the consortium anymore).”
The consortium formed by seven of the country’s top conglomerates bagged original proponent status (OPS) from the DoTr in September for its P102-billion proposal to rehabilitate and expand the country’s main air gateway. It is expected to increase the airport’s capacity from the current 30.5 million annual passengers to 47 million in two years and to 65 million in four years.
The seven companies are Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
After gaining headway through the OPS, the group proceeded to discuss with the DoTr the concession terms of the project, before it is submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for evaluation.
The DoTr planned to do this by end-2018, but the two parties have yet to arrive at an agreement to date.
Sought for comment, NAIA consortium Spokesperson Jose Emmanuel “Jimbo” P. Reverente said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday only that the group will “comply with the stated deadline of Secretary Tugade.”
Asked for the specific points of contention between the private proponent and the DoTr, Mr. Tugade replied: “Kung ano ’yung mga improvements na ilalagay. Remember, meron silang tinatawag na (people mover) — ’yung mga ganyan. Eh bilisan na nila ’yun, isumite na nila sa amin ’yun. (Details of improvements that will be undertaken. Remember, they talked about a people mover — things like that. They should act faster because we want to submit this proposal to NEDA already).”
Mr. Tugade also aired the possibility of reviewing alternatives should the consortium’s proposal fall through. “May proseso ’yan eh, diba, na unsolicited. Pag pinagawa, pag hindi na-ano yung isa, i-entertain mo ‘yung pangalawa, kung gusto namin ‘yun (There’s a process for unsolicited proposals. If we ask for something, and the other one cannot do it, you entertain the second to see if we will like it),” he said.
Aside from the consortium, the tandem of Megawide Construction Corp. and Indian company GMR Infrastructure Ltd. — which is behind the Mactan-Cebu International Airport — also submitted last year a $3-billion proposal to rehabilitate NAIA. This was set aside to prioritize the consortium’s proposal, which was submitted earlier.
Meanwhile, the P735-billion Bulacan airport proposal of San Miguel Corp. unit San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC) is expected to undergo Swiss challenge next month.
“Inaayos namin ’yung (We’re preparing the) terms of reference for the Swiss challenge. Pagka naayos na natin ito (Once we will have finalized it), hopefully within the next two weeks matatapos na itong negotiation na ito, ipa-publish na natin ito (we will finish negotiations and we will publish a call for other proposals),” Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo said in the same briefing.
Under the Swiss challenge, the government will invite third parties to match the original proposal within a 60-day period.