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Palace gets new CALAX plea

Posted on July 15, 2014

THE HIGHEST BIDDER for a contested public-private partnership (PPP) project wants to be represented as Malacañang considers an appeal filed by a disqualified rival.

In separate disclosures yesterday, Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) said the Team Orion consortium had submitted a motion to intervene to the Office of the President regarding San Miguel Corp. (SMC) unit’s appeal to reconsider its bid for the P35.42-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) project.

Both Ayala and AEV -- whose units AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and Aboitiz Land, Inc. lead Team Orion -- said they wanted to “participate in any proceedings to be conducted in connection with the stay order imposed by the OP on the disqualification of SMC’s group.”

San Miguel’s Optimal Infrastructure Development, Inc. and Team Orion were among the four bidders that submitted offers for the CALAX project last June 2. Optimal was disqualified on a technicality -- the validity of its bid security was four days short -- and Team Orion, which offered an P11.7-billion premium, was declared the highest bidder.

Optimal, which said its unopened bid involved a higher P20.1-billion premium, subsequently appealed to Malacañang. Last June 30, the Palace prevented the Public Works department from enforcing the firm’s disqualification.

Noel Eli B. Kintanar, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. Executive Vice-President, yesterday said: “We filed for a motion to intervene so that the facts will be known to the public and our position on the issues be heard.”

“It is very important that, at the very early stage, the integrity of the bid process is established and protected. The steps in awarding PPP projects should be transparent and must follow the rules,” Mr. Kintanar added.

San Miguel representatives declined to comment.

A legal advisor for the Public Works department said Team Orion’s move might delay the award of the CALAX project. Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson, however, said: “This will not affect the timeline as much. This move is expected...”

The project involves a 35-year contract to finance, construct and operate a 47-kilometer four-lane toll road connecting two growth areas south of Metro Manila.