The Philippine Star, 23 July 2014
By Lawrence Agcaoili
MANILA, Philippines – Infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) sees further delay in the P18-billion toll road connecting the North Luzon expressway and the South Luzon expressway after the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion on the legality of the joint venture with state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC).
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has issued an opinion dated July 7 that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) erred when it approved the joint venture between MPICâs Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC) and PNCC on the connector road project.
Based on the recommendation of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the NEDA Board approved the amendment or extension of existing joint venture between MPTDC and PNCC as well as the supplemental toll operations agreement (STOA) to cover the extension of the franchise of NLEX under Presidential Decree 1894.
De Lima said in the 68-page letter sent to Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla that âthe NEDA Board approval appears to have been issued beyond its powers, and without factual basis or justification.â
Even if the proposal is to proceed, instead, in accordance with the scheme described in the NEDA Boardâs amended approval, De Lima said all government agencies, bodies and officials are constitutionally and statutorily required to ensure that such proposals do not merely offer advantageous terms from a business perspective.
She added that it would be highly unwise and even contrary to the tenets of good governance to suddenly convert an unsolicited proposal, which is about to be subjected to Swiss Challenge, into another mode of implementation by entering a joint between the Unsolicited Proponent and the PNCC.
MPTDC president Ramoncito Fernandez said in an interview with reporters the company is amenable to subjecting its unsolicited connector road project proposal to a âSwiss Challenge.â
âIf you ask me, I believe it should be shorter than six months. Itâs just a revival of what was stopped last year. We are now studying our options whether to go back to unsolicited or not, because we have retained that right until we are awarded a contract,â Fernandez explained.
The NLEX SLEX connector project was originally submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in May 2010 under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.
The joint venture arrangement between Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) and PNCC was duly approved by the NEDA Board in January last year.
MalacaĂ±ang has earlier directed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to immediately resolve the legal hurdles to the NLEX-SLEX connector road.
InterAksyon, 22 July 2014
By Darwin G. Amojelar
MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ruled that an P18-billion road project proposed by the Metro Pacific Group be subjected to a Swiss challenge.
In a 41-page legal opinion dated July 7, 2014, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board’s decision to implement the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road project as a joint venture, and not as an unsolicited venture, is “without factual basis or jurisdiction.”
President Benigno Aquino III chairs the NEDA board.
To recall, Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp (MPTDC) earlier sealed a joint venture with Philippine National Construction Corp (PNCC) in a bid to facilitateÂ construction of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.
MPTDC controls Manila North Tollways Corp (MNTC), which operates the North Luzon Expressway. State-run PNCC is the holder of the NLEX franchise, which MNTC manages on behalf of the government.
Under their deal, the Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA) between MNTC and PNCC was amended to incorporate the Connector Road project.
According to the amended STOA, the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, which will be called Segment 10.2, would be integrated to Segment 10.1, aÂ 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 the NLEX to MacArthur Highway. The 3 projects would now be called NLEX MetroÂ Expressway Link Project.
The joint-venture route was meant to do away with the Swiss challenge, which had been required of the project when it was still being pursued as an unsolicited venture. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) had endorsed the joint-venture route toÂ expedite the project.
“It would be highly unwise and even contrary to the tenets of good governance to suddenlyÂ convert an unsolicited proposal, which isÂ about to be subjected to Swiss challenge, into another mode of implementation, i.e., entering a JV between the unsolicited proponent andÂ the PNCC at the behest,”Â de Lima said.
“Any perception that piggy banking on the franchise of PNCC would, in any way, allow the unsolicited proposal of MPTDC to evade or circumvent the Swiss challenge requirement or would allow it to obtain the contractÂ without competitive challenge, is erroneous,” she added.
Sought for comment, MPTDC president Ramoncito Fernandez said the company received the DOJ opinion.
“We are now studying our options whether to go back to unsolicited or not because we have retained that right until we are awarded aÂ contract. We have retained our original proponent status,” Fernandez said.
He said MPTDC is ready to undergo a Swiss challenge, which would take about 3 months.
With the DOJ ruling, the company expects further delay in the implementation of the project, which “we are projecting to startÂ by early next year,” Fernandez said.
He expects the project to be completed in 2.5 years. The company was banking on completing the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road by end-2016.
MPTDC is a unit of listed Metro Pacific Investments Corp (MPIC). InterAksyon.com is the online news portal of TV5, which like MPIC is chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan.
The Philippine Star, 07 July 2014
By Lawrence Agacaoili
MANILA, Philippines – Possible solutions to the legal hurdles delaying the P18-billion connector road project of infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) are expected to be presented to Malacanang as early as this week, a Cabinet official said over the weekend.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a text message that the joint legal group of the government has identified solutions to the legal issues hampering the approval of the connector road be presented to President Aquino.
âPresentation will be made to the President hopefully by this week. It is in our best interest that said connector road be constructed,â Abaya stressed.
Malacanang earlier directed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to immediately resolve the legal hurdles to the toll road that would connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
Abaya met with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson in Malacanang last June 26 to address the issues raised questioning the legality of the proposed toll road.
A lawyer had questioned before the Department of Justice (DOJ) whether the connector road would be built under the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) franchise or would be subjected to a Swiss challenge.
âSo those are the legal questions that we passed on to the DOJ,â he added.
The DOTC chief is hopeful that the legal issues could be resolved soon.
âSo we will see. We hope there is a clear legal solution to it. I am really interested in getting this implemented,â he said.
The project that would connect NLEX and SLEX via Segment 9 connecting NLEX to MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela would be completed in August, and Segment 10 starts from the Mindanao Ave. exit of NLEX to North Harbor in August next year.
NLEX would be connected to the common alignment at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa to the P26.5-billion Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC).
Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) president Ramoncito Fernandez earlier said the connector road would not be completed before the end of the term of President Aquino due to legal issues that delay Malacanang approval.
The MPIC unit was earlier expecting the nod of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) by the first quarter of 2014.
For his part, TRB executive director Edmundo Reyes Jr. earlier pointed out that certain legal issues were holding up the approval process after a case was filed questioning the legality of the joint venture entered into by MPTC and the state-run PNCC.
Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) intends to raise P10 billion in the last quarter of the year to finance the proposed NLEX-SLEX connector road. It is looking at a combination of ways to raise funds such as either from existing shareholders or through the issuance of bonds.
About 70 percent of the P18-billion project cost for the connector road would be in the form of debt while the remaining 30 percent would be from internally generated funds or cash from existing shareholders.
Last March, MNTC successfully raised P7 billion from the sale of retail bonds that were listed at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. (PDEX).
The MPIC Group has earmarked P40 billion worth of investments for various road projects here and abroad over the next five years.
Aside from local projects, MPIC earlier said it is looking at two major toll road projects in Vietnam that could entail investments of up to $1 billion as part of efforts to diversify its presence in the region.
The Philippine Star, 27 June 2014
By Lawrence Agcaoili
MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang has directed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to immediately resolve the legal hurdles hindering the construction of the P18 billion âconnector roadâ by infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya yesterday met with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in MalacaĂ±ang to address the legal issues delaying the approval of the road that would connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
âThe President called us all together to resolve the issues. We have to do that because at the end of the day its Presidential approval. We have to protect the President by making sure what we are recommending is legally sound,â Abaya said.
A certain lawyer in February questioned before the Department of Justice (DOJ) whether the connector road would be built under the PNCC franchise or would be subjected to a Swiss challenge.
Abaya explained that the complainant questioned the shift of the mode of the project from an unsolicited proposal to a Swiss challenge and then to a JV with PNCC.
âSo those are the legal questions that we passed on to the DOJ,â he added.
ABS-CBN News, 31 March 2014
MANILA, Philippines â Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) is planning to raise P10 billion for the construction of the P18 billion toll road that will connect the North and South Luzon Expressways.
MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said the company will raise funds in the last quarter of the year.
âThat is around P10 billion and will immediately be after the TRB [Toll Regulatory Board] approval. So we are hoping by the third or the fourth quarter we will be raising financing again,â he said.
MNTC, a unit of infrastructure company Metro Pacific Investments Corp. has also successfully listed P7 billion worth of retail bonds at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. (PDEX).
The PDEX listing will be used to finance the P10 billion Harbor Link project.
Franco said MNTC is considering other ways to raise funds, including raising funds from existing shareholders or through the issuance of bonds.
About 70 percent of the funds will be borrowed while the remaining 30 percent will be internally generated, said Franco.
He added that MNTC is monitoring developments in the financial markets after the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) raised the reserve requirements by a percentage point on March 27.
Effective April 4, the reserve requirement for commercial banks will increase to 19 percent from 18 percent, 7 percent from 6 percent for thrift banks, and 5 percent from 4 percent for rural banks
âWe have to evaluate because of the developments in the financial markets. We have to study the impact of the decision of the BSP to raise requirements,â he said.
Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. president Ramoncito Fernandez, meanwhile, said an estimated P40 billion will be allotted for road projects in the Philippines and abroad over the next five years.
MPIC earlier said it may develop two major toll road projects in Vietnam, which could cost $1 billion.
The company is in talks with Cuu Long Infrastructure Development and Management Corp. (Cuu Long CIMP) to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Transport of Vietnam for an expansion project in northern Ho Chi Minh.
âItâs moving well. We had the Vietnam potential partners visit Manila last month. They were very happy with their visit so we are on schedule to submit a joint proposal to the Vietnamese government,â said Fernandez.
Malaya, 20 February 2014
ByÂ Evan Orias and Raymond Africa
THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority yesterday said the worst traffic situation is expected in the last quarter of the year, when there will be simultaneous construction of 10 government projects.
Work on two of the projects — Skyway Stage 3 and Phase 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway â started Monday night.
The other projects whose constructions are going to overlap by the last quarter are LRT Line 1 Cavite extension, Integrated Transport System (Southwest Terminal), Sen. Gil Puyat-Paseo de Roxas underpass, NLEX-SLEX link connector road, EspaĂ±a flyover, LRT Line 2 east extension project, Lawton bridge, and LRT Line 1 north extension project.
MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said that on the third day of Skyway 3 construction, a decrease of about 7.3 percent was seen in the daily average of 130,000 vehicles passing OsmeĂ±a Highway.
He said this could be because motorists opted to take alternate routes.
Two southbound inner lanes of the OsmeĂ±a Highway were closed Monday night for the construction of Skyway 3 from Balintawak in Quezon City to Buendia avenue in Makati City.
Tolentino said there is no reason to reroute traffic to Mandaluyong City because OsmeĂ±a Highway âis still okay.â
He also said no traffic congestion was monitored in the six alternate routes for vehicles along Quirino avenue. The alternate routes make use of streets in Manila and Makati cities, including A. Mabini, Leon Guinto, P. Zamora, Pedro Gil, Onyx, Zobel Roxas, and Kalayaan Avenue, and Chino Roces Avenue.
Tolentino said the agency needs more 400 traffic constables, aside from the 100 MMDA personnel and 50 flag men provided by the contractor at the perimeter of the construction site.
He added the agency has already put street signs so that motorists will not be confused.
Completion of the Skyway 3 project is expected in 2017. The road projects are expected to cause heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
The Philippine National Railways will provide additional train trips, the Department of Transportation and Communications yesterday said.
The âspecial coachâ service, which will start March 3, will be provide four trips daily in addition to the 70 trips PNR is making, said DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal.
The train will use part of the 40 coaches donated by East Japan Railway Co. in 2012, Sagcal said.
The donated coaches were initially fielded for PNRâs Tutuban to Bicol trips and vice versa, which started March 2012 but suspended in October 2012 over rail safety concerns.
Sagcal said the special coach service will make use of air-conditioned train sets and other features to ensure passenger convenience, such as fixed seating, on-board comfort rooms, reclining seats, and a lounge section. It can accommodate 120 people per trip.
PNR general manager Joseph Allan Dilay said the special coach service will run four times a day.
There will be only two Tutuban to Sta. Rosa and vice versa trips. These will be the first and last trips. In between, the trains will travel only from Tutuban up to Alabang and back.
Depending on ridership response, Sagcal said the PNR will decide on whether to increase the number of trips.
Sagcal said that to further help ease traffic woes, the PNR will operate its commuter rail longer, from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily from its current operating hours of 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The railwayâs commuter line serves an average of 65,000 passengers on 70 trips per day.
By Lawrence Agcaoili
MANILA, Philippines – Citra Central Expressway Corp., a unit of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), expects to receive the Toll Regulatory Board approval for the construction of the P27-billion toll road connecting the North Luzon and South Luzon.
The company said construction of several columns along OsmeĂ±a Highway as part of the projectâs advance works would start immediately after receiving the notice from the regulator.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued ECC-NCR-1206-0126 and DNF-UFD-C/B P#2013-07-123 allowing the cutting and balling of trees as well as the planting of seedlings along the project alignment from Buendia to the corner of Quirino Avenue.
The Skyway Stage 3 team would also enclose or board-up the projectâs work site occupying the center island and two of the five southbound travel lanes along Osmena Highway from F. Torres Street towards Quirino Avenue in Manila to begin excavation, foundation and column works.
To minimize the public inconvenience, the Skyway Stage 3 team has started to coordinate with the concerned local government unit (LGU), the local traffic police force, and the barangays within its jurisdiction and the Metro Manila Development Authority in implementing traffic re-routing and counterflow, if needed.
All the safety devices would also be put in place and adequate number of traffic personnel will be deployed in the work area to assist motorists.
Timely advisories, through signages, broadcast media, leaflets and social media sites, will also be made.
âThe Skyway Stage 3 appeals for public understanding and cooperation and will do everything possible, to keep traffic moving and keep the motorists, commuters and workers alike safe at all times,â the company said.
The Skyway Stage 3 project is a 14.8-km. 6-lane elevated expressway that would connect NLEX and SLEX from the Buendia-end of the Skyway in Makati City to Balintawak, Quezon City.
SMC president Ramon S. Ang earlier said the project would decongest the major roads of Metro Manila, particularly EDSA and C-5 and reduce travel time from Buendia to Balintawak to 20 minutes or less from two hours.
Aside from SMC, other shareholders of Citra Central Expressway include Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada and the state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC).
The company expects to start full-scale construction by April this year and complete the project in 36 months.
Late last September, MalacaĂ±ang gave CCEC the green light to start the construction of the 14.8-kilometer connector road starting at the end of the existing Skyway Stage 1 in Buendia would run through the length of Osmena Highway, Quirino Ave., Paco, Sta. Mesa via the Nagtahan flyovers, traverse Aurora Blvd and Araneta Ave. up to Sgt Rivera Road and end at the bend of A Bonifacio Ave. towards NLEX.
Manila Bulletin, 03 February 2014
By Kris Bayos
Manila, Philippines â Travel time from Buendia (Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati) to Balintawak in Quezon City will be shortened from two hours to 20 minutes or even less once the elevated toll road that will connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) is completed.
The construction of the elevated tollway will commence as soon as the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) issues the notice to proceed (NTP) anytime this month.
Citra Central Expressway Corp. (CCEC) said construction of several columns on OsmeĂ±a Highway will start immediately after the NTP is issued for the Skyway Stage 3.
Skyway Stage 3 is a 14.8-kilometer six-lane elevated expressway that will connect the Buendia end of Skyway Stage 2 in Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City where NLEx starts.
CCEC said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already authorized the cutting and balling of trees and seedlings planted along the project alignment from Buendia to the corner of Quirino Avenue.
âAfter this activity, the Skyway Stage 3 team will enclose or board-up the projectâs work site which will occupy the center island and two of the five southbound travel lanes along OsmeĂ±a Highway from F. Torres Street toward Quirino Avenue in Manila and begin its excavation, foundation and column works,â the CCEC said.
To minimize the public inconvenience that these activities may cause, CCEC added that the Skyway Stage 3 team has started to coordinate with the local government of Manila, its local traffic police force, and the barangays within its jurisdiction and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in implementing traffic re-routing and counter-flow, if needed.
âAll the safety devices will be put in place and adequate number of traffic personnel will be deployed in the work area to assist motorists. Timely advisories, through signages, broadcast media, leaflets, and social media sites, will also be made,â the CCEC explained.
The CCEC appealed for public understanding and cooperation among motorists as it promised to keep traffic moving and keep the motorists, commuters, and workers alike safe at all times.
Full-scale construction of the Skyway Stage 3 will start by April and completion is targeted within in 36 months.
Once operational, the Skyway Stage 3 will help decongest the major roads of Metro Manila, particularly Epifanio delos Santos Avenue and Circumferential Road 5 (C5) and reduce travel time from Buendia to Balintawak from two hours to 20 minutes or less.
Skyway Stage 3 project proponent CCEC is a joint venture corporation of Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada and the Philippine National Construction Corporation in partnership with San Miguel Corporation.
GMA News, 03 February 2014
Conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. may soon get the green light to construct a proposed P18-billion toll road to connect the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways.
Lawyer Edmundo Reyes Jr., TRB executive director, said the board expects to approve the supplemental toll operations agreement for the proposed toll road undertaken by MPIC tollway unit Manila North Luzon Tollways Corp. (MNTC).
He said TRB has already approved the proposed alignment as well as the design of the toll road expects to look into the financial aspect of the project within the first quarter.
âIt is still under study by the board. We have to really take our time and study the details,â Reyes said.
MNTC holds the concession rights to the 84-km-long North Luzon Expressway, one of the main arterial routes north of Manila.
On Jan. 21, MPICâs Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC) and the state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) signed a joint-venture agreement giving MNTC the green light to implement the connector road project as part of the NLEX Metro Expressway Link.
The newest is Segment 10.2 or the 8-km. connector road from C-3 to Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa. It also includes a 2.6-kilometer spur road from C-2 to Road 10 leading to the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) at the Port Area in Manila.
On Jan. 22, President Benigno Aquino III led the groundbreaking for the P27-billion NLEX-SLEX connector road of Citra Central Expressway Corp., a unit of San Miguel Corp.
According to Presidential Decree 1112 that created the TRB, the board has the power âto grant authority to operate a toll facility and to issue therefore the necessary âToll Operation Certificateâ.â
InterAksyon, 03 February 2014
By Darwin G. Amojelar
MANILA – The proponent of an expressway connecting the north and south of Metro Manila expects to get the go signal from the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) this week to start the construction of the project.
In a statement, Citra Central Expressway Corp said it expects TRB to issue a notice to proceed “within the week.”
Citra Central Expressway is a joint venture between Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada and the Philippine National Construction Corp (PNCC)Â in partnership with San Miguel Corp (SMC).
After securing a notice to proceed, the company will start construction of several columns along Osmena Highway.
SMC president Ramon S. Ang had said full-scale construction should start by April for completion in 36 months.
He said the project is expected to decongest EDSA by 50 percent and reduce travel time from Buendia in Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City from two hours to 20 minutes or less.
To minimize the public inconvenience that construction may cause, the Skyway Stage 3 team has started to coordinate with the concerned local government unit — in this case, the City of Manila — its local traffic police force, the barangays within its jurisdiction and the Metro Manila Development Authority for a traffic re-routing and counter flow scheme, if needed.
The P26.7 billion Skyway Stage 3 project involves the construction of a 14.8-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway that will connect the end of the Skyway in Buendia to Balintawak.
The project has eight access points, namely Buendia, Quirino, Nagtahan, Aurora Boulevard, E. Rodriguez, Quezon Avenue, Sgt. Rivera and Balintawak.
The project, which would link the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), will provide 6,000 direct jobs and an additional 10,000 indirect jobs during construction.
The first stage of the Skyway consisted of a 9.5-kilometer elevated road from Bicutan, ParaĂ±aque City to Makati, as well as the rehabilitation of the 13.5-kilometer section of the SLEX from Alabang to Magallanes. Stage 2 is a 6.88-kilometer elevated expressway from Bicutan to Alabang.
The Skyway Stage3 is separate from another connector road that Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp (MPTDC) is pursuing also through a joint venture with state-run PNCC at a cost of P18 billion.
The Segment 10.2 or the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road is an eight-kilometer long road from C3 in Caloocan City to Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campus in Sta. Mesa. Some portions of this segment will be elevated above the railroad tracks of the Philippine National Road (PNR).
The project is expected to start construction in July this year for completion in 2016.