THE LAGUNA Boulevard to Mamplasan section of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAEx) can be opened by December, according to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark A. Villar.

“The original target is February, but we’re pushing for December,” Mr. Villar told reporters yesterday during a site inspection of the road project under a public-private partnership scheme.

Luigi L. Bautista, president of MPCALA Holdings, Inc., the private concessionaire for the project for a period of 35 years, also said that the original date for completion of that CALAEx section was February, but the government wants to expedite the construction.

The P35.43-billion project involves the construction of a 44.6-kilometer four-lane toll road between the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx)-Mamplasan interchange and the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx).

The entire project is targeted for completion by 2020, but finished sections would be opened as they are accomplished.

The contractor is DMCI Construction.

Mr. Bautista said they will break ground on the Cavite segment in April. The company signed a contract with Leighton, a unit of Australian company CIMIC Group Ltd. for this.

MPCALA Holdings is part of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), 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. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo