The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Monday that there’s no stopping the P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System Project (AFCS) from proceeding, despite protests from the losing bidder.
“I don’t think we will entertain anymore a complaint. It’s up to the BAC [Bids and Awards Committee]. But the BAC is not inclined to derail the process any further with this filing, especially now that we already awarded the project,” said Michael Arthur Sagcal, DOTC spokesperson.
He added that, “They can file anything they want, but the BAC will treat it whether they will actually consider the appeal or just give an answer that we’re already awarded it.” The AF Consortium formed by the Ayala Group and Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) that bagged the AFCS project believes that it can upgrade the country’s rail-ticketing system to global standards.
In a statement, Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of MPIC, said that, “We are pleased to help in modernizing our rail transport system and ease the burden of millions of commuters who use our train systems daily.”
He added that, “We believe our strategic alliance with Ayala will result in an efficient, convenient and integrated light transit system network similar to our neighboring Asian nations.”
The AFCS, patterned after mass rail transport payment systems in developed countries such as Singapore’s EZ Link Card, will upgrade the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit ticketing system by substantially speeding up payments, reducing queuing time and allowing passengers seamless transfers from one rail line to another.
The DOTC awarded the project to AF Consortium of MPIC and Ayala, which also offered the government a premium of P1.088 billion on top of the cost of designing and constructing, and managing the implementation and operation of the system.
SM consortium position
The SM Consortium, which lost the bidding for the project, said it is filing a motion for reconsideration before the DOTC.
Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holding Inc., said the SM Consortium will question whether the project was indeed awarded to the bidder with an offer most advantageous to the government and the Filipino people, especially the commuting public.
“We believe the SM Consortium submitted the superior bid, which was an unconditional offer to pay the government the full bid amount of P1.008-billion upfront,” Sy said.
The Ayala-MPIC consortium bested SM’s bid by just over P100,000. According to Sy, the AF Consortium bid violates the BAC’s requirement for an unconditional and unqualified bid, a matter that they questioned in letters to DOTC on January 22 and January 29.
Sy argued that the SM Consortium bid is unconditional “in the fullest sense of the word, as it is not dependent on any external factors, such as volume of ridership or users or the length of time. Needless to say, an upfront, unconditional payment involves no risk to the government, not being dependent on the happening of any future event to which the payment is conditioned on.”
The signing and notice to proceed for the AFCS project will be from the third to fourth week of this month.