SMC puts airport plan on holdBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is putting on hold its proposal to build a new airport in Metro Manila in reaction to the government’s evolving policies that have delayed the implementation of key projects three years into President Aquino’s term.
SMC president Ramon S. Ang on Wednesday told reporters that the government should open up projects to all bidders instead of introducing restrictions that would hamper the participation of certain major players.
He was referring to the Department of Transportation and Communication’s (DOTC) inclusion of restrictions on the participation of airline companies or owners from bidding for the P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) project.
The policy was later relaxed to allow airline owners to have a 33-percent stake in a consortium interested in the project. This was included in the pre-qualification requirements for interested parties to avert possible conflicts of interest, with the airport operator giving more favorable terms to its affiliates over rivals.
“I don’t understand that 33-percent restriction. If the government really wants to get the best deal, then they should open up the bidding. That’s real transparency,” Ang said. “If you want the best deal, you have to let everyone join. It will maximize the potential of the project.”
SMC earlier said it would build a new 2,000-hectare international airport near Manila to complement the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
He said the new airport could co-exist with both Naia and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which the government wants to develop into a major hub for Northern and Central Luzon.
Ang said that SMC has lost its enthusiasm to participate in the MCIA bid because of the government restrictions.
“But (Lucio) Tan still wants to join, so we have no choice,” Ang said, referring to billionaire Lucio Tan, who is SMC’s partner in flag carrier Philippine Airlines.