Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said he was still willing to support the government’s infrastructure program despite delays in the implementation of several projects that his group was interested in.
“We’re still keen on the infrastructure projects. The government needs our support,” Pangilinan, chairman of Metro Pacific Investment Corp., said in an interview with reporters.
The administration’s infrastructure program, unveiled under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, lists up to 10 key construction contracts that aim to solve infrastructure bottlenecks in airports, roads and ports.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), however, had said it might divert from the PPP direction in favor of funding projects using foreign aid and capital—a move which some potential investors feared might result in further delays in project implementation.
MPIC had proposed to take on several of these projects, namely the expansion of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line on EDSA and the elevated road project that would link toll road systems north and south of Metro Manila.
Under MPIC’s MRT proposal, the group would spend $300 million to improve the services at the overworked railway system. This covers the acquisition of new trains and expansion of station facilities.
The group also proposed to buy out the government from the project for more than $1 billion and relieve the state from paying billions of pesos in debt yearly to MRT’s original shareholders.
Pangilinan said MPIC had been told that its proposal was now being reviewed by the Office of the President. “We’re just waiting for the decision,” he said.
The MPIC offer was submitted to the government last February, but no official action has been made as of yet. The delay was said to have adversely affected the company’s own expansion plans.
Another stalled project that MPIC has its eye on is the so-called “connector road,” which is an elevated road through Metro Manila that would link the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).
MPIC submitted an unsolicited proposal for the project to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in June 2010. However, shortly after the submission, the Department of Justice (DoJ) intervened saying that if MPIC or any group wanted to take on the project, the company would have to shoulder right-of-way costs.
The acquisition of right of way, referring to the land that needs to be expropriated to make way for the road, has typically been the government’s job. But the DoJ said since the “connector road” is a result of an unsolicited proposal, the costs should be passed on the private sector.