The Duterte administration has deferred the scheduled construction of the $15-billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulakan, Bulacan this month to address issues raised by the Department of Finance (DOF).
The airport’s groundbreaking was set before yearend, following the signing of the notice to proceed between San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) last September.
SMC was asked to halt the construction due to some concerns raised about the project, according to Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer.
“Yes, technically (construction has to) start but they told us to stop,” Ang said on the sidelines of the South Luzon expressway event on Sunday.
Ang added the groundbreaking was delayed as construction is on hold.
The DOF sent a letter to the DOTr to clarify some issues on the Material Adverse Government Action (MAGA) and cap liability of the project.
Arthur Tugade, DOTr secretary, said there is no objection on the project as these are just clarificatory issues that need to be addressed before proceeding with the groundbreaking.
“It’s in favor of the government… in other words it’s an issue of wordings and interpretation. It’s included in the Department of Justice (DOJ) review, the MAGA and cap liability,” Tugade said.
There should be a cap liability so that claims for liability will not be infinite, which is good for the government, he explained.
“Liability issues, it’s in relation to the performance and deliverable. It has nothing to do with borrowings,” he clarified.
Tugade said he is pushing for the project’s groundbreaking before yearend as scheduled, but they have to wait for the comments and position of the DOJ.
Under the 50-year concession agreement for the project, SMC will undertake the financing, design, construction, supply, completion, testing, commissioning, and operation and maintenance of the new international gateway.
The target is to complete the construction of two parallel runways in three to four years that would allow the airport to accommodate 35 million passengers per year initially.
The new airport will further expand to four runways, eight taxiways and three passenger terminals by the fifth year.
The project will be funded through 70 percent loan from foreign banks and 30 percent equity.
Ang said the parent company will have to put new equity for the project amounting to $5 billion while the remaining $10 billion will be funded through borrowings.
SMC has engaged the services of global firms Groupe ADPi, Meinhardt Group and Jacobs to design and build NMIA.
All three companies were involved in building world-class airports including Singapore’s Chiangi Airport, Atlanta Airport and France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, SMC said.
SMC is building the project in a 2,500-hectare property in Bulacan, about 30 kilometers northeast of Metro Manila, at no cost to the government.
The Bulacan airport will have a design capacity of 100 million passengers per year but can be expanded to 200 million. With four parallel runways planned, it targets 240 aircraft movements per hour.
The project will also include the construction of an 8.4-km. tollway that will connect the airport to the North Luzon expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.
Bulacan international airport is envisioned to help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport and complement the operations of Clark International Airport, in order to serve the current and anticipated rapid growth in aviation traffic demand in the Greater Capital Region.