By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) and the Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. also want to get the contract to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority said on Thursday.
“There are two more: Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. and… San Miguel Corporation,” MIAA General Manager Eddie V. Monreal said at a Senate hearing on Thursday afternoon, when asked by Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay who the third and fourth proponents are after the tandem of Megawide Construction Corp. and India-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd. (Megawide-GMR), whose original proponent status (OPS) has been revoked.
When asked if there were efforts already to talk to the third proponent, Mr. Monreal said: “Sa ngayon, wala pa po (For now, none yet).”
Also at the hearing, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the Megawide-GMR tandem could still appeal for reconsideration, while MIAA implements its own reconstruction and rehabilitation program.
“Kung gusto nila mag-apila sa desisyon, sa aking pananaw, pwede pa silang mag-apila, habang ginagawa ng MIAA ang kanilang reconstruction and rehabilitation program,” Mr. Tugade said.
(If they want to appeal the decision, in my view, they can still make an appeal while the MIAA is doing its reconstruction and rehabilitation program.)
Mr. Monreal said it was the MIAA Board that decided on the OPS of Megawide-GMR.
“Should Megawide-GMR ask for a reconsideration, we will present it to the board, so that the board can act on it favorably or not,” he explained.
“We will see how the board takes it,” he added.
On Thursday morning, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang told BusinessWorld that the company was only interested in operating and maintaining (O&M) the airport.
SMC is also building an airport in Bulacan.
The Philippine Star first reported that SMC had submitted an O&M proposal for NAIA.
Sought for comment, Terry L. Ridon, convenor of infrastructure-oriented think tank Infrawatch PH, said in a phone message: “This development gives rise to a clear suspicion of collusion for the irregular revocation of the second private proponent’s original proponent status: that the OPS revocation was made to accommodate another private proponent to rehabilitate NAIA.”
“Nonetheless, the SMC proposal should be scrutinized not only on financial and technical competency, but also on concerns of anti-competition, given that it has already been awarded the right to build its airport in Bulacan,” he added.
Mr. Ridon also said that controlling two airports within the Greater Capital Region “may give rise to higher terminal and airport fees for passengers, airlines and service providers.”
“Furthermore, strict scrutiny should be undertaken on SMC’s debt-equity ratio, given that it will already undertake high financial leverage to fund the development of its Bulacan airport costing at least P735 billion,” Mr. Ridon said.