SMC mulls unsolicited proposal for Panay-Guimaras bridge — Drilon

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By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) is interested in investing in Iloilo as it looks to submit an unsolicited proposal for the construction of the bridge that will connect Panay to Guimaras, according to Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

Mr. Drilon said he encouraged SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang to invest more in Iloilo following his visit for the groundbreaking of the new production facility of SMC’s subsidiary company, San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB) on Friday at Barangay Gua-an, Leganes, Iloilo.

“I toured Mr. Ang and showed him what are the infrastructure in Iloilo. He was impressed and encouraged to invest here. He is looking at the possibility of an unsolicited proposal for the (Panay-Guimaras) bridge,” Mr. Drilon said in an interview on Friday.

The Panay-Guimaras project, which is estimated to cost around P9 to P14 billion, is expected to be the long-term solution to improve the transport system of the Iloilo-Guimaras route and vice versa.

According to Mr. Drilon, the bridge will start from Barangay Gua-an in Leganes going to Guimaras, and will connect the site of SMB’s Iloilo brewery to other parts of the region.

“I hope that the unsolicited proposal will fast-track the construction [of the] infrastructure,” he said.

Apart from the bridge, Mr. Drilon hopes SMC will also invest and operate the P6.5-billion international airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo.

While Mr. Ang has not yet confirmed the proposed investments, he assured that SMC is willing to invest more in Iloilo.

Ang SMC puwedeng mag-tayo ng maraming investments, puwedeng (SMC can put up several investments, like a) green terminal or flour mill. Nakita ko very progressive itong Iloilo (I’ve seen how progressive Iloilo is),” Mr. Ang said in his speech on Friday.

Mr. Drilon underscored the need to bring in more investments to Iloilo to provide more jobs and counter poverty.

“We have to provide our people with job opportunities. We can only do that if we create an environment conducive to investments. More investments mean more jobs, more jobs mean less poverty,” he said.

Mr. Drilon has been a prime mover of Iloilo’s top infrastructure projects such as the Iloilo International Airport, the Senator Benigno Aquino Avenue in Diversion road in Mandurriao district, the new Iloilo-Bacolod ferry passenger terminal in City Proper district, and the P11.2-billion Jalaur multipurpose project in Calinog, Iloilo.

In two years, SMB’s P6.7-billion production facility in Leganes, Iloilo will also rise and pave the way for additional employment and economic activity.

Meanwhile, the feasibility study for the interisland bridge, which is being conducted by a Chinese firm, is expected to be completed by October, Mr. Drilon added.