By Denise A. Valdez
ABOITIZ INFRACAPITAL, Inc. has been awarded original proponent status (OPS) by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for its proposal to develop the Laguindingan airport, a top official from the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said.
“Laguindingan, may OPS na… It was only (Tuesday) afternoon that was issued by the CAAP Board. So since may OPS na, babalik sa DoTr sandali, tapos ibabato natin sa NEDA [Since there’s OPS already, it will be given to the DoTr, then we’ll give it to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)],” Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo told reporters on Wednesday.
Last year, Aboitiz InfraCapital submitted to the DoTr a P42.7-billion unsolicited proposal to operate, maintain and expand the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental. The proposal was evaluated by the CAAP Board, the DoTr agency directly in charge of the airport.
Transportation Undersecretary for Planning Ruben S. Reinoso, Jr. said on Sunday the DoTr is still waiting for the documents from the CAAP Board for it to evaluate before endorsing to the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC).
“I still don’t have copy. CAAP as grantor should submit NEDA-ICC requirements to DoTr for review and endorsement to NEDA,” he said in a text message when asked for an update on the OPS.
Mr. Tamayo said the target of the DoTr is to conduct the Swiss challenge for the Laguindingan airport by the second quarter. Under a Swiss challenge, other firms can submit counter proposals. As the original proponent, Aboitiz InfraCapital will have the right to match the new offer.
“We’re talking about it already. Even the composition of the technical working group, it has been formed… Basta kami nagmamadali [We’re rushing],” he said.
Last September, Aboitiz InfraCapital also received OPS for its unsolicited proposal for the New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport. It said earlier this year that it wants to start operating both the Laguindingan and Panglao airports by end-2019.
The two airports were part of the P148-billion bundled proposal of Aboitiz InfraCapital in April 2018 to develop regional airports, together with the Iloilo International Airport and the Bacolod-Silay Airport. It was rejected by the DoTr, which preferred to handle separate proposals for each airport.
Aboitiz InfraCapital is also part of the consortium of seven conglomerates proposing to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The so-called NAIA consortium received OPS for the project in September.