By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo
INFRASTRUCTURE conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) may soon be granted original proponent status for its Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CTBEx), an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Wednesday.
“As long as we don’t see any conflict and it complies with the conditions under the law of unsolicited proposal, we’ll be able to give the results of the evaluation within November,” Public Works Undersecretary Maria Catalina E. Cabral said during a media briefing after inspecting the site of the proposed project.
MPCALA Holdings, Inc. had submitted the unsolicited proposal for the CTBEx project to the DPWH last July 7. The 49-kilometer toll road will connect the Cavite-Laguna Expressway at Silang East Interchange to Tagaytay City, and end at Nasugbu, Batangas.
“This will have to be vetted with other ongoing projects as well as the conditions before we can give the go-signal and approval for the unsolicited (proposal),” Ms. Cabral added.
As an unsolicited proposal, the P22.43-billion project will have to be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board after the DPWH grants original proponent status to the MPIC unit.
The project will then be subjected to a Swiss challenge wherein third parties can submit competing offers, while the original proponent will be given the right to match them.
Ms. Cabral said the Swiss challenge may be conducted by the first half of next year, expressing hope the government will be able to get the best offer.
“We’re optimistic we can break ground sometime next year,” she added.
Construction of the CTBEx is targeted to begin by mid-2019, and completed by mid-2022.
Ms. Cabral noted CTBEx, which is the first unsolicited offer submitted to the DPWH under the Duterte administration, will cut travel time from Manila to Tagaytay from 2.5 hours to less than an hour.
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.