Is the $550-Billion Peso Sangley Point International Airport Project in Trouble?
Proponents of the $10 billion (P550 billion) were elated when the provincial government of Cavite moved forward with the project by awarding it to a consortium of Filipino and Chinese companies earlier this year.
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The initial phase of the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) project was awarded to a consortium composed of the Lucio Tan-owned MacroAsia Corp., and the Chinese state-owned China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) last February.
The joint venture company was the sole bidder for the project.
While developments on the SPIA ground to a halt due to worldwide air travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla remained optimistic that the project, which was seen to decongest the aging Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City, will eventually push through.
Now however, new troubles seem to be piling on the project.
Up to the national government
Last week, Remulla said the provincial government would not hesitate terminating the project should the national government find cause that the partnership with CCCC poses a security risk to the Philippines.
In a column on The Philippine Star published Monday, August 31, writer Iris Gonzalez said a subsidiary of CCCC was among the companies that helped build China’s artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, an area claimed by multiple countries, including the Philippines and China.
Gonzalez also quoted a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Chinese incursions into the disputed waters.
“Since 2013, the PRC (People’s Republic of China) has used its state-owned enterprises to dredge and reclaim more than 3,000 acres on disputed features in the South China Sea, destabilizing the region, trampling on the sovereign rights of its neighbors, and causing untold environmental devastation,” Pompeo said.
On Tuesday, MacroAsia issued a statement saying that they will defer to the national government concerning the fate of the SPIA
“We are in agreement with the statement of the Provincial Governor that the final go-signal for the Sangley Project will be up to the National Government,” the company said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. “We have been completing the qualification documents for the award, but the pandemic has delayed our processes, including the completion of JV (joint venture) documents prior to any signing of legal or financial contracts.”
What is the Sangley Point International Airport project
The development of the Sangley Airport as an international hub is envisioned to come in stages. The first phase—the one awarded to the consortium by the Cavite provincial government in February—covers about P208.5 of the estimated P550 billion total cost of the project and involves the construction of a new runway that can handle up to 25 million passengers per year. That runway is projected to be completed as early as 2022.
Based on the consortium’s proposal, SPIA will have up to four runways and a passenger capacity of 130 million annually, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.