MVP group offers to take over MRT-3 anew
Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has formally submitted a revised offer to expand, rehabilitate and operate the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 along Edsa in Metro Manila, a senior government official said.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the department has already received MPIC’s new offer, which was revived late last year after the Senate rejected the DOTC’s own P54-billion MRT-3 takeover plan.
A Pangilinan group official with knowledge of the matter confirmed that the revised proposal was given last week.
MPIC’s new offer, however, has to hurdle key legal and technical considerations apart from another major obstacle, which is the Aquino administration’s bias against unsolicited proposals.
“We are still studying the (MPIC) proposal,” Abaya told reporters.
Abaya, whose department rejected MPIC’s initial MRT-3 takeover plan last year, said a decision to accept or reject the new offer would follow once a complete review has been finished even as he reiterated the administration’s view on unsolicited deals.
“Honestly, we have seen that we are much better off with open, transparent and competitive bidding,” Abaya said.
While Abaya gave no details on the offer, the same Pangilinan group official noted that its contents were mainly the same as the revised offer presented during a hearing at the House of Representatives in December last year.
Key features of that proposal showed that MPIC was offering to spend $524 million (P23 billion), partly to expand and rehabilitate the railway line, which is already operating beyond its designed capacity.
MPIC, whose investment portfolio includes North Luzon Expressway, Maynilad Water Services and Manila Electric Co., is also seeking the extension of the build-lease-transfer term of MRT-3’s private sector owner Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) by 15 years to 2040.
MRTC is currently led by controversial businessman Robert John Sobrepeña, although he will no longer be involved with the railway line should the government accept MPIC’s revised offer, the same source noted.
MPIC, which has yet to exercise options that would give it control over MRTC, earlier noted that accepting its proposal means the transportation department would no longer need to subsidize the money-losing MRT3. Part of MPIC’s original offer included increasing fares at MRT3 although the government already implemented a fare adjustment last Jan. 4.
MPIC is part of a consortium with Ayala Corp. that recently bagged the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 public private partnership (PPP) deal, another elevated railway in Metro Manila. That same tandem is also keen on the LRT-2 operations and maintenance PPP deal, now being auctioned off by the government.
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