SMC to pay landowners for road acquisitions

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THE private concessionaire for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) said it will be advancing payments to landowners in behalf of the government for the road acquisitions involving its tollway project.

In a statement on Monday, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said TPLEx concession holder Private Infra Development Corp. (PIDC) is working with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to compensate the property holders for the right-of-way acquisitions made from 2015 to 2017.

“Our wish is for the situation to be remedied as soon as possible. We will advance the payment for the government. We understand the plight of the landowners, and also recognize the position of the government. But we would like to assure them that we are ready to resolve this issue and expedite payment,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said in the statement.

The company noted that several landowners have complained about the delays in the full payment for their properties, which were obtained by the government for the construction of TPLEx. The DPWH explained the problem is caused by the incomplete documents presented by claimants.

“[T]he DPWH was supposed to send Letter Offers (LO) to purchase their lands at the appraised value. The agency was able to fully accomplish this by March 2018. At present, it is reviewing claimants’ documents to ensure their completeness. But this has proven daunting as many claimants are said to have incomplete documents,” SMC said.

It said the DPWH committed to give the full payment to landowners with complete documents within a month.

The TPLEx is an 89.31-kilometer toll road that stretches from Tarlac City to Rosario, La Union. The 24.42-billion project started construction in 2010, but the entire alignment is targeted to be completed this year.

Last December, the DPWH awarded SMC the original proponent status for its P23.948-billion unsolicited proposal to extend TPLEx from Rosario to San Juan, La Union. The project is still subject for review by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). — Denise A. Valdez