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The government is reconsidering the unsolicited proposal from conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to build a new international airport in Bulacan worth PHP700 billion.

“The airport (project) in Bulacan is still not dead,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia told reporters.

Pernia said the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) technical board is reviewing the proposed airport project following the country’s adoption of a national transport policy that aimed for long-term transport planning.

He noted Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has also announced that the government would welcome unsolicited proposals from the private sector to help jumpstart the infrastructure projects.

“It’s (airport project) going to go through the usual process, there’s no special treatment,” he assured. “We will consider whether or not there are conditions. If there are conditions then, that will be a minus point.”

The NEDA chief explained that unsolicited project proposals have to go through public-private partnership (PPP) process, and are subject to a Swiss challenge.

“So they will have to compete,” he said.

Pernia said the timetable for the review of the unsolicited proposal from SMC to build the airport project varies depending on complexity.

He noted the project would eventually be elevated to the NEDA Board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, for final approval.

Pernia said the government previously aimed to focus on redevelopment of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Clark International Airport (CIA) “for the meantime because that is really doable, that is what we need in immediate and short term.”

He also recalled that there were many lobbyists for the Sangley Airport Development project in Cavite compared to the Bulacan airport project.

The Sangley airport project had over three proponents, he added.

“In other words, unsolicited proposals (were put on) back burner, so (now) we felt we had to reconsider. Because earlier it was an announcement, I think the Finance Secretary said that we welcome unsolicited proposals, and so we want to honor that statement,” Pernia said.

Pernia further said the country recently also adopted a national transport policy that aimed for long-term transport planning, noting that a new Hong Kong airport took 10 years to build.

He added the government would eventually decide whether to approve the Bulacan or Sangley airport project.

The Duterte administration launched last April its comprehensive infrastructure development program, “Build, Build, Build”, to usher in what was touted as the golden age of infrastructure in the Philippines. (LDV/PNA)

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