San Miguel vows to clean up Bulacan coastal areas

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San Miguel

DIVERSIFIED conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) plans to revive some 12,000 hectares of coastal fishing areas in Bulacan, to ensure the sustainability of the area where the company will build its proposed airport project.

In a statement issued Thursday, SMC said the P754-billion investment for the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) will cover the protection and revival of Bulacan’s coastline surrounding the airport.

SMC’s revival efforts will include dredging coastal areas and other bodies of water, while also working with local government units to prevent factories from dumping toxic waste into the water.

The company said it is also willing to supplement the Coast Guard’s patrolling activities to ensure that no garbage or industrial waste will be dumped into the bodies of water.

“Fishing in Bulacan has slowly been dying the last few decades because of pollution from households and industries. Our goal is to clean up the coast and make Bulacan a seafood capital. After all, the airport is there to help support the local fishing industry,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said in a statement.

Aside from the nearby coastal area, NMIA will also stand within a township which will include a residential segment, a government center, a seaport, and industrial zone.

“It will have many sustainable features that our countrymen will also appreciate and enjoy,” Mr. Ang said.

The company’s announcement to revive Bulacan’s coastline follows the approval of its NMIA proposal by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board.

The proposal will now be subjected to a Swiss challenge, where competing groups will be allowed to challenge SMC’s bid. As original proponent, SMC will have the right to match or submit a better bid in order to win the project.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the Swiss challenge is scheduled for mid-January next year, while Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the project is set to be awarded within the first quarter of 2019.

“Hopefully, once we complete all the government processes, we can begin actual work on constructing this world-class international gateway, capable of serving our nation for many generations…While we’re still going through a long process, hopefully, in 2019, we can hit the ground running on actual construction,” Mr. Ang said.

The company expects the construction of NMIA to generate millions of direct and indirect jobs over the next five years. Mr. Ang said they will immediately hire about 100,000 local workers from Bulacan and nearby provinces such as Bataan and Pampanga once the project is finally approved for implementation.

SMC has proposed to build NMIA as an alternative to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which has long been operating beyond its capacity of 35 million passengers annually. NMIA is set to accommodate 100 million passengers per year, with six runways and modern terminals.

Shares in SMC jumped 1.03% or P1.50 to close at P147.50 each at the stock exchange on Thursday. — Arra B. Francia