LOCAL government units in the province of Bulacan expressed dismay and fought back against the delay of the groundbreaking of the $15-billion Bulacan Airport Project scheduled for this month due to the new issue raised by Finance Seretary Carlos Dominguez III.
According to the LGUs, the international airport project would boost their respective tourism industries as well as provide jobs and means of livelihood to their residents. In this regard, they expressed hope that Dominguez would not hinder the construction of the major undertaking.
In an interview. Bulacan mayors who requested anonymity, expressed doubts on the real motive of Dominguez in preventing their LGUs from enjoying the benefits expected from the modernization program.
Last Sunday. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the concession agreement remains pending with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the DOF still has to clear some issues, particularly the “wording and interpretation” of the project’s terms. This after San Miguel Corporation (SMC) received a notice to proceed last September 18.
Despite this, Tugade remains hopeful the groundbreaking ceremony will push through to help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and to finally solve the worsening air traffic.
Last year, Dominguez expressed his “reservation” on the project and pointed out that the New Clark City is 55 kilometers away from the modern airport project.
Recently, it was reported that he clarified the interpretation on the “material adverse government action” (MAGA) and the boundaries of government liability on the project.
MAGA covers compensation for the concessionaire if ever government action has a negative effect on the project.
“Pinaghahandaan na namin ang pagtatayo ng international airport sa aming lugar. Excited kaming sumabay sa posibleng oportunidad na ihahatid nito sa aming bayan. Maging ang aming urban planning ay isinasaalang-alang na namin,” said an official from the first district of Bulacan where the airport would rise.
Meanwhile, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang admitted that the groundbreaking ceremony has been delayed and that construction of Bulacan Airport Project or the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) is behind schedule because the project is still on hold.
It may be recalled that the DOTr closed the Swiss Challenge when no company offered to bid for the construction of the P735 billion new airport except for SMC which was given the “Notice of Award” allowing it to invest, design, construct and operate the NMIA.
Based on the design of the NMIA which has earlier been released to the media, the modern airport has a capacity thrice that of NAIA. It will have four runways which will enable four airplanes to take off and land all at the same time.
The modern airport will have eight taxiways and three passenger terminals which will have a capacity of 100 to 200 million every year.
It will also allow 240 airplanes to park every hour and will be connected to an 8.4 kilometer expressway that will exit to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.