BULACAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. An artist's perspective for the New Manila International Airport (Bulacan International Airport). San Miguel Holdings Corporation will build the PHP734-billion international gateway which is expected to be finished in six years. (Photo courtesy of SMHC)

MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) assured that if San Miguel Corp. (SMC) fails to fulfill its agreement of constructing the Bulacan International Airport, the conglomerate will have to forfeit its PHP11-billion performance bond to government.

Transport Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez made this assurance following delays in the construction of the PHP735-billion airport project which was supposed to break ground between December 2019 and January this year.

“Kapag wala pong nangyari sa construction at may nilabag silang mga patakaran, alituntunin sa pag construct ng Bulacan airport (If nothing happens during construction and they violate rules, agreements in the construction of the Bulacan airport), rest assured that will be forfeited in favor of the government,” Lopez said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Lopez said Transport Secretary Art Tugade has given the SMC enough time to “recover.”

“The Secretary (Tugade) at this point in time has opted to exercise human compassion and decency. Kung puwede po natin pagbigyan ng konti pang panahon para po tuluyang maka-recover ang proponent sa Bulacan airport (If we can give them a little more time to recover the proponent in the Bulacan airport),” he said.

Earlier, Tugade said the airport project is currently on hold following issues that needed to be “clarified” by the Department of Finance.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who previously expressed reservations on the project, wants the contract to be favorable to the government, Tugade said.

The DOTr formally awarded the SMC the airport project on August 14, 2019, two weeks after the conclusion of the Swiss Challenge where the conglomerate’s unsolicited proposal went uncontested.

SMC was given the notice to proceed by the DOTr on September 18, 2019.

The Bulacan International Airport, also known as the New Manila International Airport, aims to solve congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and complement the operations of Clark International Airport.

It will have four parallel runways for faster turnover of aircraft, eight taxiways, a Passenger Terminal Building with a design capacity of 100 million to 200 million passengers per year, and airfield facilities and equipment.

There will also be an eight-kilometer toll road connecting the Bulacan Airport to the North Luzon Expressway will be constructed to aid travelers to and from the airport.

This gateway is expected to be completed in six years. (PNA)