MPCALA Holdings, Inc.’s proposal will now proceed to next approval stage. — BW FILE PHOTO

By Denise A. Valdez
A UNIT OF Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) has been awarded the original proponent status (OPS) by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CTBEx) project on Thursday.
Malaking bagay itong project dahil yung mga pupunta sa Tagaytay, instead of two and a half hours, baka a little more than one hour na lang magiging travel time nila. So napakalaking bagay sa decongestion. Pati yung mga pupunta sa Nasugbu, definitely maka-cut yung travel time (This is an important project because those going to Tagaytay would have reduced travel time from two and a half hours to a little more than an hour. It will contribute a lot to decongestion. Even for those going to Nasugbu, it will definitely help cut travel time),” DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said in an interview after the awarding ceremony in Silang, Cavite.
One year after MPCALA Holdings, Inc. submitted the proposal to the DPWH, it is now ready to go through the next step in securing a private-public partnership with the government: getting approval from the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-ICC).
The CTBEx proposal is the first toll road project to receive OPS from the Duterte administration. It aims to build a 50.42-kilometer toll road that will connect the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) at Silang East Interchange to Tagaytay City and Nasugbu, Batangas.
Once completed, the expressway is expected to cut travel time from Governor’s Drive to Nasugbu by 58 minutes, and from Sta. Rosa to Tagaytay by 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While Mr. Villar hopes to open CTBEx by 2022, MPTC Chief Finance Officer Christopher Daniel C. Lizo said during the program yesterday it is committing to deliver only at least the first two sections of the toll road by the said year.
“This year we are going through the NEDA-ICC process. Once we go through the Swiss challenge, we can start on the project,” the DPWH secretary said. He added that the 60-day Swiss challenge is targeted to begin by second quarter of 2019.
Under the Swiss challenge, third party companies may submit counter proposals which Metro Pacific may match.
MPCALA Holdings President Luigi L. Bautista told reporters they will begin fund-raising for the P22.43-billion project after the Swiss challenge.
“By the time that we get the final award, that’s the time that we’ll go to the lenders and seek funding,” he said.
MPTC is a unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC). 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.