By Denise A. Valdez
THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is looking to grant “very soon” the original proponent status (OPS) to the Metro Pacific group for its proposal to build a Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CTBEx).
Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar told reporters last week the department is “finalizing” the project’s approval.
“I don’t want to preempt but soon…. Nakita ko naman, napag-aralan ko naman [I’ve seen it, I’ve studied it],” he said.
The proposal to construct a 49-kilometer toll road linking the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) at Silang East Interchange to Tagaytay City and Nasugbu, Batangas was submitted by MPCALA Holdings, Inc. to the DPWH in July 2017.
MPCALA Holdings President Luigi L. Bautista told BusinessWorld in a text message on Tuesday that fund-raising for the P22.43-billion CTBEx project will begin when they receive the OPS.
“No fund-raising has yet been started until we secure the project and are ready to execute. At the moment, we are still waiting for the OPS,” he said.
Mr. Bautista said in late April they were expecting the approval by June, but up until last week he said they have yet to receive an update from the DPWH.
The DPWH earlier set a November 2017 deadline for its release of the project evaluation results.
The construction of CTBEx was originally set to begin on mid-2019 and completed by mid-2020.
Once MPCALA Holdings is granted OPS from the DPWH, the proposal would then be forwarded to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for approval. When approved by the NEDA Board, it will then be subjected to a Swiss challenge.
Under the Swiss challenge, other companies may submit counter-proposals which MPCALA Holdings may match.
MPCALA Holdings, which is part of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), bagged the contract for the P35.43 billion CALAX under the public-private partnership program in 2015.
MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.