‘Swiss challenge’ weighs on MPIC road deal
The 8-kilometer Metro Manila connector road of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. will be subjected to a “Swiss” or a competitive challenge, as the administration shifts gears following legal questions raised on a project structure it was previously seeking to implement, senior government officials said last week.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said in a text message that the project’s mode of implementation would revert back to an unsolicited proposal and “will need to go through a Swiss challenge.”
He added that a minimum of 90 days was needed for competing proposals to be submitted.
A Swiss challenge in this case means other groups would be allowed to offer to build the P18-billion connector road that would link Metro Pacific Tollways’ North Luzon Expressway with the South Luzon Expressway. But under the rules, Metro Pacific Tollways has the right to match rival offers to win the project.
“It’s going to be a smoother and quicker route, if we go back to the unsolicited structure,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya told reporters in an interview Friday.
The decision for the elevated expressway to be implemented under a joint venture with Philippine National Construction Corp.—which was backed by the National Economic and Development Authority—was struck down by the justice department last month, causing further delays to the project.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima specifically noted in the decision on July 7 that the Neda board approval on the new structure “appears to have been issued beyond its powers, and without factual basis or justification.”
Metro Pacific Tollways president Ramoncito Fernandez said they have always been open to a Swiss challenge, but because of the disagreements within the government on its implementation, the connector road would not start construction before 2015.
He said the estimated completion would then be moved to 2017 instead of the original plan to finish the road by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016. Metro Pacific Tollways is a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., a listed infrastructure company led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.
San Miguel Corp. and Indonesia’s Citra Group, which jointly operate the SLEx, are currently building another elevated connector road that would link SLEx with NLEx. The completion of this project is expected as early as 2016, their officials said in a previous interview.
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