METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) said it would no longer pursue its unsolicited proposal to operate and maintain the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

Wala na kaming pakialam (We don’t care about it anymore),” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters in a recent interview.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters separately that the government is still open to the possibility of privatizing the operations and maintenance (O&M) aspect of the MRT-3.

Oo. Ang importante is ayusin muna natin ’yung MRT-3 para convenient tsaka ‘yung equity (Yes. What’s important is to first fix MRT-3 to make it convenient, including the equity),” he said.

In 2017, the Transportation department gave the consortium, which includes MPIC, Ayala Group and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd., the original proponent status for its unsolicited proposal to operate and maintain the MRT-3. Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. currently has the concession to operate the Light Rail Transit Line-1 (LRT-1).

In December 2018, the Department of Transportation signed a contract with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Sumitomo-MHI) to take over the MRT-3’s maintenance.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin