Final face-off looms in Cavite-Laguna Expressway project

Chrisee Dela Paz
Final face-off looms in Cavite-Laguna Expressway project
Units of San Miguel and Metro Pacific passed the technical bids qualification for Cavite-Laguna Expressway PPP deal

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is a step away from announcing the winning bidder for the controversial P55.5-billion ($1.25-billion) Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) project, after it accepted the technical offers of the units of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC).

“Yes, both San Miguel and MPIC have submitted complete pre-qualification and technical documents. Opening of financial bids will be on Tuesday, May 26,” Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Rafael Yabut said in a text message when asked if his department approved the technical bids of the two bidders.

On Friday, May 22, the DPWH’s Bids and Awards Committee opened and evaluated the technical proposals of the two qualified bidders.

This was after MPIC-backed MPCALA Holdings, Incorporated and SMC-unit San Miguel Holdings Corporation were the only companies that submitted their technical and financial bids for the CALAX project at the office of the DPWH on Tuesday, May 19.

The troubled road public-private partnership (PPP) project also drew interest from an undisclosed client of Gatmaitan Law Office and another from Reyes, Tacondong & Company law firm, but both groups opted not to show up in the bidding.

“We’re targeting to finish the evaluation of the bid documents within the prescribed period which is Tuesday next week,” Yabut said.

This, however, is almost a year after CALAX PPP was first put on the auction block on June 2, 2014.

The troubled toll road PPP includes a minimum bid price of P20.1 billion ($451.54 million) set by the government. This represents the premium that SMC’s unit offered to pay on top of the P35.42-billion ($795.69-million) project cost during the first time it was tendered in June. 

The CALAX project was rolled out again in February, after the Office of the President in November ordered DPWH to offer the deal in a new auction round.

Bidder SMC’s Optimal Infrastructure Development, Incorporated earlier sought President Benigno Aquino III’s intervention after its disqualification on a technicality concerning its bid security.

That June 2 bidding attracted 4 qualified bidders: SMC’s Optimal Infrastructure; MPIC’s MPCALA Holdings Incorporated; Team Orion of Ayala Corporation and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Incorporated; and MTD Philippines, Incorporated.

For the new round of bidding, the government said that it will involve a single-stage auction, meaning the legal, technical, and financial documents are submitted simultaneously by bidders.

On February 27, Team Orion and MTD already said they are no longer interested in the CALAX rebid.

Once the DPWH finds out which between San Miguel and MPIC submitted the better financial bid, it would then issue a notice of award on July 7 and a notice to proceed on July 31 this year.

“We then hope to sign the concession agreement on July 28,” Yabut said.

The project involves a 35-year contract to finance, build, and operate a 47-kilometer, 4-lane toll road between Cavite Expressway and the Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna. – Rappler.com

$1= P44.49

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