DOF not holding off SMC’s Bulacan airport, says Tugade

Published December 3, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Finance (DOF) is not holding-off the planned international airport in Bulacan province that resulted in the delayed groundbreaking for ambitious undertaking by businessman Ramon S. Ang.

DOTr  Secretary Arthur Tugade (Photo by Ali Vicoy)
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade (Photo by Ali Vicoy)

Following the postponement of the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $15 billion Bulacan International Airport, Transportation Arthur P. Tugade said this was due to “matters being clarified” regarding the project contract.

In particular, Tugade wanted to ensure the Bulacan project, bagged by the subsidiary of conglomerate San Miguel Corp., is in line with the Clark International Airport’s operations and maintenance (O&M) template.

Tugade also clarified the postponement was not because of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and the DOF, but to allow Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the contract.

“There are matters being clarified to make sure that the Clark template is followed and observed—a template formulated/ envisioned to ensure the best interest of government,” Tugade told Dominguez in mobile phone message.

“I said in very clear terms that Secretary Sonny [Dominguez] and DOF are guided only with the best interest of government,” Tugade’s mobile message read, which the finance chief shared with DOF beat reporters.

Tugade added the deferral of the groundbreaking was necessary for the DOJ look at the contract’s wordings and ensure there were no possible legal loopholes particularly in the material adverse government action (MAGA) clause.

“When we say that same is similar to the Clark template—it is so,” Tugade said. “The limit on liability is needed so we avoid an ‘infinitum’ amount. Termination or fault by either side is defined by their respective deliverables in the agreement.”

Dominguez, meanwhile, said that the DOF has not written the DOTr regarding the department’s alleged “concerns” on the unsolicited project bagged by the San Miguel Holdings Corp.

Since the project was awarded, Dominguez disclosed that the Bureau of the Treasury only requested for a copy of the contract, and “that was the only formal communication” of the DOF with DOTr.

The Bulacan airport is largest among the infrastructure projects approved by the Duterte administration that once completed, the facility should help ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

San Miguel’s proposed new international “aerotropolis” involves an airport covering 1,168 hectares and a city complex to be built at a 2,500-hectare area along Manila Bay in Bulakan town, Bulacan.