MPT South expects govt to give original proponent status on CTBEx proposal

METRO Pacific Tollways South Corp. (MPT South) hopes to receive this month the original proponent status for the P22.43-billion Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CTBEx), an unsolicited proposal it submitted to the government in July last year.

Luigi L. Bautista, the company’s president, said his group submitted all documents required by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in relation to its unsolicited proposal.

“We hope to get the original proponent status by next month,” he said in an interview late Monday, April 30. “As far as we are concerned, we have completed the required information so it’s really up to the DPWH to review and issue the original proponent status to us.”

Being granted an original proponent status will give the proponent a competitive advantage to its would-be competitors during the competitive challenge for the project.

Under the implementing rules and regulations of the build-operate-transfer law, the government must place unsolicited proposals to a Swiss challenge, which, in a nutshell, is a legal process of inviting other groups to bid for an unsolicited deal.

The original proponent then has the right to submit a counteroffer.

Earlier, DPWH Undersecretary Maria Catalina E. Cabral said the agency aims to officially subject the CTBEx proposal to a Swiss challenge as early as the first half of 2018.

But given the movement of the proposal, it may seem that the timeline for the Swiss challenge will have to be pushed back a little further.

After receiving the original proponent status, the company and the implementing agency will then enter into an exclusive negotiations process to further polish the offer to be more beneficial to the state and the public.

The offer will then be subject to the approval of several bodies under the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), including the Neda Board, which is chaired by President Duterte.

Once it gets the green light from the Neda Board, the project will then undergo the Swiss challenge.

CTBEx, a proposed 49-kilometer (km)expressway, will connect Cavite and Batangas, with a spur road to Tagaytay City and ultimately terminating in Nasugbu, with another spur road to Tuy, Batangas.

Bautista said the project will greatly improve access to Tagaytay City and Nasugbu, thereby ensuring faster travel and support for the government’s tourism thrust. Once completed, travel time will be reduced to less than an hour from the current 2.5 hours, he added.

The whole expressway will take about three years to complete, but the company can open the first section in one and a half years.

The government aims to award the contract by mid-2018.

CTBEx will start at the Silang East Interchange of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway. The alignment shall traverse the towns of Silang, Amadeo, Mendez and Alfonso in Cavite; Tagaytay City; and Nasugbu in Batangas.

Expected to handle an initial 60,000 vehicles per day, the proposed expressway will have eight major interchanges, two spur roads and a number of overpasses.

It is divided into three phases: Section 1, a 17.4-km road from Silang, Cavite to Tagaytay; Section 2, a 9.86-km road from Tagaytay to Alfonso; and Section 3, a 22.2-km road from Alfonso to Nasugbu.

Should the project be awarded by mid-2018, the proponent can start the construction of the infrastructure by the third quarter of 2019. The whole expressway is expected to be opened by mid-2022, the last year of President Duterte’s term.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., an infrastructure-holdings conglomerate in the Philippines, is no stranger to unsolicited proposals for toll projects.

After waiting six long years, it bagged last year the multibillion-peso connector road, an 8-km road that will link the North and South Luzon Expressway. It also has existing proposals for the development of thoroughfares in Metro Manila.

Metro Pacific is the largest tollways operator in the Philippines. It also has interests in expressways in Thailand and Vietnam.