NEDA reviews San Miguel's proposed airport in Bulacan

MANILA, Philippines – The proposal of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) to build an international airport in Bulacan is now being reviewed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) is carefully reviewing SMC's $10-billion unsolicited proposal.

"We are looking at it, we'll let it go through the process. It's now with our ICC Technical Board, and then we will make sure that there will be no conditions," Pernia said.

If approved by the NEDA ICC, it would then need the NEDA Board's final approval for implementation. (READ: IATA to PH gov't: Act on airport proposals now)

It would then be bid out via Swiss challenge – the course the government takes when dealing with unsolicited proposals. 

A Swiss challenge requires an invitation to other companies to make competing offers while giving the original proponent the right to match them.

"As I said, we will consider whether or not there are conditions. If there are conditions, then that will be a minus point," Pernia said.

He added that the timetable for the review of the unsolicited proposal for the Bulacan airport "varies depending on complexity."

Not a priority

The NEDA chief, however, said the proposal is not a priority. He said the government will focus on projects that can be finished within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"It will take some time to build. The new Hong Kong airport, it took 10 years, I understand, to build. So that's really going to be more of interest to the next administration rather than this one," Pernia said.

"But in terms of processing... it has been submitted... we are looking into it," he added.

Pernia said the government earlier opted to focus specifically on the redevelopment of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Clark International Airport, as these are doable and needed in the short term.

"So in other words, unsolicited proposals [are on the] back burner. [But] earlier, it was an announcement I think, the finance secretary said that we welcome unsolicited proposals, and so we want to honor that statement. But as I said, it will go through the process," Pernia explained.

SMC's proposal could go head-to-head with the $50-billion proposal of All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corporation (ARRC) – backed by Henry Sy-led Belle Corporation and Solar Group – to develop an airport and economic zone at Sangley Point. – Rappler.com