Real work begins

Published February 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Fil C. Sionil
Fil C. Sionil

The original schedule would have been mid-January but it went awry. The disruption in its timetable was due to the eruption of Taal volcano in Batangas on January 12. The local government of Cavite deemed It best to postpone the inauguration of Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) in order to concentrate on assisting the affected residents in Batangas. It finally happened a month after, on February 15.

The Cavite LGU is joining forces with the tandem of MacroAsia, owned by tycoon Lucio Tan and China Communications Construction Corp. (CCCC), to transform SPIA into an alternative gateway. Its operations will be in harmony with NAIA and the Bulacan international gateway to be constructed by San Miguel Aerocity, Inc., wholly-owned by San Miguel Holdings Corp.

With the initial phase hurdled, the real hard work begins. Financing for the first phase worth $4 billion is on the move – both equity and syndicated loan; obtaining environmental clearance and paying off the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the money spent sprucing up Sangley last year. Based on latest computation, the amount to be reimbursed by the private proponents to DOTr is ₱700 million to be settled first before any construction commences.
State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines is ready to participate in the financing program. Negotiations are also ongoing with three Chinese banks, namely, Agricultural Bank of China; China Development Bank, and Export-Import Bank of China, in the loan syndication at concessional terms.

This may raise an eyebrow because of the current cynicism or Sino-phobia against Chinese-related investments. But, there’s no need to pierce the corporate veil here. For transparency and openness, it has never concealed that the sole bidder for the development of SPIA is the tandem of MacroAsia and CCCC, which built Changi Airport in Singapore.

Sino-phobia is nothing new. History tellls us, though, that we inherited this from our colonial forebears – the Spaniards. The Philippines has long been a trading partner of Chinese merchants, then known as Sangleys. But, the Spanish colonial government was skeptical of the Chinese merchants who were only allowed in Cavite.

A friend who’s adept in Mandarin said Sangley has diversity in its meanings depending the Chinese dialects and how it is pronounced. It could mean victory, life or put things in order. Cavite, on the other hand, means first pretty land mass. Combined, it could mean pretty victor! Fast-forward to now, the joint partnership could translate into putting in order the operations of the country gateways at NAIA which has to operate above capacity.

San Miguel is moving forward as well. Ahead of the Bulacan airport, it is undertaking the dredging and expanding of Tullahan river system.

The dredging is an essential component since it will help solve flooding at the site. The process is necessary due to illegal structures and unwarranted garbage discharge that resulted in the siltation of Tullahan river and turned Manila Bay into murky, stinking body of water.

As San Miguel President Ramon S. Ang explained: “One hundred percent, this project will not worsen flooding in Bulacan, it will actually solve it. In the first place, foreign banks will not lend money for such major projects if they are not assured that you have addressed all environmental risks.”

Let the wheels of doing business move forward!

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