Agencies clash over Skyway extension
Singson seeks reversal of DoJ’s pro-TRB rulingBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) believes that the San Miguel Corp.-backed proposal to extend the Metro Manila Skyway to Balintawak, Quezon City, is part of the project’s original terms forged in the 1990s and, as such, is not subject to a new round of bidding, according to agency officials.
This revealed a policy divide between two Cabinet members with TRB executive director Edmund Reyes saying Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp.’s (CMMTC) project offer would not be treated as an unsolicited proposal that would still have to be challenged by other bidders.
Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson earlier said, however, that the government would subject the CMMTC offer and the Manuel Pangilinan group’s similar and competing connector road proposal to so-called Swiss challenge procedures.
Prior to being appointed to head the public works department, Singson worked for Pangilinan’s water unit, Maynilad Water Services Inc.
“The Citra offer will not go through a Swiss challenge. That is just an extension of their current concession agreement with the government so it’s not really a new project,” Reyes said in an interview.
Reyes said the CMMTC offer was considered “Phase 3” of the current Skyway project. Phase 1 was the original Makati-to-Bicutan section. Phase 2 was the Bicutan-to-Alabang part, which was completed last year. As a continuation of an ongoing concession deal, the Phase 3 project would no longer have to be put on the auction block, Reyes said.
The policy disagreement between TRB and Singson is seen by certain quarters as a clash between the Department of Transportation and Communications, the parent agency of TRB led by former Senator and Liberal Party president Mar Roxas, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Reyes said a Department of Justice (DoJ) opinion issued in March gave TRB the authority to allow CMMTC to proceed with the Skyway extension.
The DPWH has, however, asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to reconsider.
The DoJ was earlier asked to arbitrate between the two departments to settle the matter.
Reyes said the approval of the CMMTC project proposal would not get in the way of the “connector road” project offer of Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC).
Both projects seek to link the Skyway with the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) through different alignments. Since they are likely to compete, both projects are seen affecting each other’s financial viability.
MPTC earlier submitted its proposal to the DPWH. The offer still has to undergo a Swiss challenge—a requirement for unsolicited bids—wherein other companies will be given the chance to submit better offers that MPTC will have to match.
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