MVP: Too early to discuss suing gov't over SCTEX

By Coco Alcuaz, ANC

Posted at Dec 09 2014 11:18 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2014 01:19 AM

MANILA – Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) chairman Manuel Pangilinan said there's no indication the government will alter the terms of the company's Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) project when it subjects it to a Swiss challenge.

So it's too early to discuss suing the government, he said.

“I think that may be early to say. Right now we are under discussion with the BCDA [Bases Conversion and Development Authority] with respect to the terms of reference of the bid,” Pangilinan told ANC on Tuesday.

Earlier, Rodrigo Franco, president of Metro Pacific's tollways unit Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), said the company would sue if there are changes.

"If the price challenge proceeds without an agreement on the provisions of the terms of reference and without a common understanding that the business operating agreement will be the basis of the contract for the price challenge, the validity of the exercise may be questioned and MNTC will be compelled to exercise its legal options,” said Franco.

The BCDA on Tuesday said the terms will be out on Thursday, December 11, and a meeting with potential challengers held on January 6.

The BCDA has already said that challengers of the project can only outbid MPIC on its upfront cash payment of P3.5 billion. The 50-50 sharing of revenues and other terms will remain the same.

If there are challengers, MPIC may match their bids or walk away.

MPIC got the SCTEX contract during the Arroyo administration in 2009, but only signed in 2011 under the Aquino government.

The new administration renegotiated the terms several times and then ordered a Swiss challenge, drawing protests from MPIC.

The 94-kilometer SCTEX will stretch from Tarlac to Pampanga to Bataan, improving the links of those provinces to Metro Manila via the North Luzon Expressway

SCTEX is at least the third MPIC project that's delayed due to government delays.

Its Manila connector road project is in limbo after the government prodded it into a joint venture with PNCC and then the Department of Justice said it should be a Swiss challenge instead.

A 600-megawatt power plant joint venture with Aboitiz in Redondo, Subic Bay, is also on hold due to a temporary restraining order.

Pangilinan said these won't stop his group for bidding for more infra projects.

“We just have to rise above all of these challenges, so to speak, and we will continue to be open to bidding for PPPs that we think is worth our while,” he said.