Cavite cancels Sangley airport venture with Chinese firm, MacroAsia

The Cavite provincial government scrapped the joint venture to develop the $10-billion (P480-billion) Sangley airport with Lucio Tan's MacroAsia Corporation and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), Governor Jonvic Remulla said on Wednesday, January 27.

Remulla said the province's committee tasked to review the deal recommended the non-approval of the redevelopment of the former airbase due to "various deficiencies" in the submission of requirements. He approved the recommendation on Tuesday, January 26.

The governor, however, noted that talks with "any qualified partner" to build the airport may be held and "hopefully" be successful by October.

"I still believe that a new international airport is important for the country in the long run and it must be stressed that cancellation is not in prejudice of anyone applying again," Remulla said in a Facebook post.

In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, MacroAsia confirmed that it received an email on Tuesday that the notice of selection and award was canceled.

MacroAsia's shares sank as much as 19% to a 3-month low in the first 10 minutes of trade following the cancellation, reported Reuters.

Sangley airport was poised to help solve congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, but allegations of the Chinese firm being favored hounded the project right from the beginning. The two companies were the lone bidders for the project, as other interested parties viewed the terms as "unrealistic."

MacroAsia and CCCC also failed to submit post-qualification documents, despite the Cavite government extending deadlines 4 times. The last 3-month extension was granted in September 2020.

In late August, the United States had blacklisted 24 Chinese firms for their involvement in Beijing's reclamation of maritime features in the South China Sea and its construction of military bases there. CCCC's subsidiaries were among the blacklisted companies.

Even before the US sanctioned CCCC, the company was already blacklisted by the World Bank from 2011 to 2017 over "fraudulent practices," which included anomalous bidding schemes. (READ: 'Shady track records' hound PH-China infra firms)

Despite Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr's push to stop projects linked to the sanctioned firms, President Rodrigo Duterte refused, therefore allowing the MacroAsia-CCCC project to push through. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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