LOCAL government units (LGUs) in the province of Bulacan expressed dismay over the delay of the groundbreaking of the $15-billion airport project scheduled this month due to an issue previously raised by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.
The LGUs said the international airport project would boost their respective tourism industries as well as provide jobs and livelihood to their residents. They also expressed hope that Dominguez would not hinder the construction of the new airport.
In an interview, Bulacan mayors, who requested anonymity, expressed doubts on the real motive of Dominguez in preventing their LGUs from enjoying the benefits expected from the construction of the airport.
On Sunday, December 1, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the concession agreement regarding the project remained pending with the Department of Justice as the Department of Finance still had to clear some issues, particularly on the “wording and interpretation” of the project’s terms. This, after the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) received a notice to proceed last September 18.
Despite this, Tugade is hopeful that the groundbreaking ceremony will push through.
Last year, Dominguez expressed his reservations about the project and pointed out that the New Clark City is 55 kilometers away from the modern airport project.
It was reported that he clarified the interpretation on the “material adverse government action” (MAGA) and the boundaries of government liability on the project. MAGA covers compensation for the concessionaire in case government action has a negative effect on the project.
Meanwhile, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang admitted that the groundbreaking ceremony had been delayed and that construction of the Bulacan airport or the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) was behind schedule because of opposition.
It can be recalled that the Department of Transportation closed the Swiss Challenge when no company offered to bid for the construction of the P735-billion airport. SMC was then awarded the Notice of Award, allowing it to invest, design, construct and operate the NMIA.
Based on the design of the NMIA, which has earlier been released to the media, the modern airport will have thrice the capacity of NAIA. Its four runways will enable four airplanes to take off and land all at the same time. It will have eight taxiways and three passenger terminals that can accommodate 100 to 200 million people every year. Some 240 airplanes can park every hour.
The airport will be connected to an 8.4-kilometer expressway to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.