By Chino S. Leyco
The Duterte administration’s economic managers approved the implementation of the two proposed railway projects for Metro Manila, while the Department of Finance (DOF) is still studying San Miguel Corp.’s unsolicited proposal to build a new airport.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the government’s chief economic manager, said that they have approved the Subic-Clark Railway project and the increase in the cost of the Metro Manila subway project.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC CabCom) last Friday approved the P57.2-billion Subic-Clark Railway.
“That [Subic-Clark Railway] will be part of the railway network… when it’s all completed all the ports will be connected by railway from Batangas to Subic to Metro Manila,” Dominguez told reporters in an interview at the DOF headquarters.
The second approval was the P1.3-billion increase in the estimated cost of the Metro Manila subway project. This would bring the funding for the first phase of the Metro Manila subway to P356.964 billion from the previous P355.588 billion.
The additional cost, Dominguez said, would cover any potential damage to subterranean cables during the underground excavations.
“This should cover any potential damage to, you know the underground wires, just in case you know they damage the utility lines or the subterranean cables,” Dominguez said.
Meanwhile, Dominguez said the government is not yet ready to decide on whether or not San Miguel’s proposed airport project in Bulacan should be accepted.
According to Dominguez, the technical working group was not ready with their presentation yet and that another meeting would be scheduled.
“We just haven’t taken a look at the entire project. Actually we want to take a look at what level of passengers will be the breakeven point to determine whether it’s viable, in fact are those assumptions reasonable,” he added.
But the finance chief said that as of now, the Duterte administration’s stand is to keep the present Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as the country’s main gateway.
“At this point in time, there are no plans on shutting NAIA down,” Dominguez said.
Asked if the government plans to retain NAIA even with a new international airport, the DOF chief said, “As we say a lot of big cities have more than one airport around.”
He also disclosed that San Miguel withdrawn its original proposal that the company’s proposed airport should become the only airport for Metro Manila.