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MPIC not giving up on MRT-3 takeover proposal

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METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) said its unsolicited proposal for the takeover of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) still stands, despite the decision of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to tap Japanese contractors as its maintenance provider.

“Technically the original proponent status (OPS) still exists. I think it’s best we just wait word from the government, kung ano bang plano nila [on what they plan to do],” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on Friday.

In 2017, the DoTr gave the consortium which includes MPIC, Ayala Group and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. the OPS 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, the DoTr signed a contract with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Sumitomo-MHI) to take over the MRT-3’s maintenance.

MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. K. Lim told reporters in a Jan. 24 chance interview they may need to tweak their MRT-3 proposal in light of recent events.

“Our proposal is still live. But we understand they’ve gone ahead to contract the rehabilitation with the Japanese firms. So we would probably have to reconfigure our proposal as an O&M (operations and maintenance). But we have not received official word from them on how they want to do it. So so far, we’re not doing anything. We’re just waiting for them,” he said.

Mr. Lim noted, however, they are just “waiting for (the DoTr) to decide.”

“The interest has always been its connection to LRT-1… So if anyone can run that efficiently, it would be us,” he added.

But Mr. Pangilinan said should the government propose an arrangement that is not viable for MPIC, they’re willing to give it up.

“It’s best that we wait na lang for the government direction… Then let’s see, we can take it from there. If it’s not viable for us, we just have to tell them we’re giving up our OPS,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade had earlier said he wants the MRT-3 operator to have a proposal that is “lock, stock and barrel” and includes equity and loans as part of the package.

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. — Denise A. Valdez