DOTr won't auction off Clark airport rehab
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) canceled a plan to bid out the rehabilitation of Clark International Airport, in order to avoid disputes between potential investors that could stall the development of the next major international gateway in the Philippines.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on the sidelines of a groundbreaking ceremony last week that his department will instead handle the modernization of the Clark airport.
"If it's bidding, what do you think will happen if a lot of investors want to participate? It will just prolong the development. That is why we will just do it ourselves. We could just bid out the operations and maintenance of the airport in the future," Tugade told reporters in Filipino.
Back in August 2016, two months into his term, Tugade had said before a business forum that he wants the private sector to handle the rehabilitation of Clark International Airport. (READ: Tugade wants Clark airport rehab privatized)
This statement attracted two conglomerates, which submitted their own unsolicited proposals on the Clark airport rehab.
The consortium of Megawide Construction Corporation and Bangalore-based airport operator GMR Infrastructure Limited in 2016 submitted its P250-billion plan to develop Clark International Airport as an alternative gateway for the metropolis. It went head-to-head with the group of Filinvest Development Corporation and JG Summit Holdings Incorporated's P187-billion proposal for Clark airport.
The Megawide group then raised concerns after Roberto Lim, former transportation undersecretary for aviation, said that the consortium's Clark airport proposal was "discontinued" because it was at a time when the government was not yet open to accepting unsolicited proposals for the gateway.
Asked if the DOTr has rejected the two unsolicited proposals, Tugade said the department is about to tell the consortia.
"We'll just tell them. I don't like rejecting as if I am a regulator. As a transportation secretary, I always talk to them (private sector). Discussion is key so we prevent bad situations. That has always been my style," Tugade said in Filipino.
Change in mode of implementation
During the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) was supposed to auction off the first phase of a plan by Aeroports de Paris to increase the gateway's passenger capacity to 8 million in 2017 from the current 5 million.
Based on a master plan by the French company, the development of the Clark airport would involve a P7.2-billion effort to increase capacity to 80 million passengers annually by 2032.
During the previous administration, the Clark airport modernization was in the public-private partnership (PPP) pipeline.
Clark International Airport currently has two 3,200-meter parallel runways, one of which would be extended to 4,000 meters to accommodate new generation wide-body aircraft.
The primary runway is 3,200 meters long and 60 meters wide, while the secondary runway is the same length but is 45 meters wide.
To support the development of Clark airport as a main international gateway, Tugade had said his department plans to build a standard train or a connector road to make it accessible for passengers coming from Manila.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the Duterte administration prefers the "hybrid" mode of implementation, where the government would first build or develop the infrastructure projects and later auction off the operations and maintenance of these to the private sector. – Rappler.com