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The proposed $14-B airport complex in Bulacan will have 4 parallel runways.

Clark has priority over SMC’s aerotropolis

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III will choose to prioritize the development of New Clark City over San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) proposed P735.6-billion “aerotropolis” in Bulacan.

“Our priority is the New Clark City development. We have put money in it, we started that already,” Dominguez told reporters.

Dominguez earlier told a joint hearing of the Senate public services and economic affairs committees that pursuing the proposed Bulacan airport (aerotropolis) might affect the development of Clark International Airport and the Clark Freeport Zone.

“All airport projects are real estate projects. The real estate value of the New Clark City is $14 billion and government committed an additional P12 billion. We want to know how the Bulacan airport, which is just 65 kilometers away from Clark, will affect the value of the New Clark City, which is the property of the Filipino people,” Dominguez told senators.

Dominguez said San Miguel Holdings Corp., main proponent of the Bulacan airport project, was deemed “incapable” of building the massive infrastructure because its capitalization of P60 billion in 2016 was nowhere near the high cost of the project.

Dominguez wants SMC to present a liability agreement that will bind the parent firm to guarantee that its subsidiary can finish the project.

Dominguez said that even if SMC’s airport project was an unsolicited bid and would be implemented at no cost to the government, “there’s no such thing as free.”

Dominguez cited the contingent liabilities incurred for such public-private partnership projects – “Everything is going to have a cost. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Either passengers will pay for it, the airlines will pay for it, or the taxpayers will pay for it.”

Negotiations are ongoing between the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and San Miguel Holdings for the final terms of the concession agreement, before it is subjected to Swiss challenge.

The proposed new international aerotropolis would involve a massive complex to be built on a 2,500-hectare property in Bulakan town.

The airport project was already awarded an original proponent status by the DOTr. It will have an initial capacity of 100 million passengers.

SMC plans to complete the project in six years.

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