InterAksyon, 08 July 2013

By: Darwin G. Amojelar


MANILA – The government may opt to expand the coverage of a franchise agreement between state-run Philippine National Construction Corp (PNCC) and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp (MPTC) to expedite the latter’s proposed project linking the north and south of Metro Manila.

On the sidelines of the signing of a concession agreement for the NAIA Expressway Project, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Rafael Yabut told reporters that the country’s economic managers are mulling over the expansion of MPTC’s Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA).

Under the proposed expansion, the Segment 10 project would be redefined to cover the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.

The STOA covers the construction of Segment 10, a 5.65-kilometer road that starts where Segment 9 ends on MacArthur Highway and stretches all the way to C3 Road. Segment 9 is a 2.4-kilometer portion linking NLEX to MacArthur Highway.

PNCC holds the franchise for both the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway.

“It’s one of the options that’s being considered by the government — to unbond the unsolicited proposal. We are seeking a legal opinion from the DOJ,” Yabut said, referring to the Department of Justice.

Yabut said the government is negotiating with MPTC if it is open to this arrangement.

Once MPTC agrees to the proposal, the company would no longer be required to undergo a Swiss challenge for the project.  A Swiss challenge is required since the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project is an unsolicited proposal.

Sought for comment, MPTC chief financial officer Christopher Lizo told that “it was an option presented by the government.”

“We think legally it’s a difficult process. We are not comfortable with the structure. We want to pursue the Swiss challenge. The Swiss challenge is already in advanced stages. It’s a matter of publishing the schedule,” he said.

Lizo said the government’s proposal is “subject to legal challenge. Anybody can challenge it because there’s no bidding.”

He said MPTC cannot use the existing PNCC franchise because the segments are specific.

The P22.95-billion NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project will complete the north-south industrial development beltway transport axis through the construction of a 13.4-kilometer four-lane elevated expressway.

The project aims to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and provide better access to Manila’s ports. The project should start this year and end in 2016.

This is separate from Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp’s proposal construct an expressway linking NLEX to SLEX at a cost of P25.4 billion.

Citra Manila’s proposal calls for a 14-kilometer six-lane tollway that will have exits in Quirino, Manila and Plaza Dilao, Aurora Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon Boulevard, Sgt. Rivera, and Balintawak in Quezon City.

The two projects would intersect at a point running from Buendia Avenue to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines campus in Sta Mesa, Manila.