San Miguel, Metro Pac set to battle for MRT-3

METRO Pacific Investments Corp.’s (MPIC) unsolicited offer to take over the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 could be derailed after a Transportation department official disclosed that San Miguel Corp. (SMC) had secured original proponent status (OPS) for a similar offer.

“We received it and we are processing it according to [the] BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) law IRR (implementing rules and regulations),” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said.

“We just know that San Miguel secured an OPS from the previous administration in early 2022,” he added.

Original proponent status gives a company the right to match other offers and win a project under a Swiss challenge.

The Transportation department, Batan said, is coordinating with the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center on how to properly address the two proposals.

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“There are rules on how to handle multiple unsolicited proposals. We are just confirming with the PPP Center for proper disposition.”

He added that San Miguel’s unsolicited offer for MRT had yet to be endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

MPIC, through unit Light Rail Manila Corp., currently operates the Light Rail Transit Line 1, while San Miguel is building the MRT Line 7.

While the government is evaluating the proposals of the two conglomerates, Batan said the Transportation department would engage the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corp. (IFC) for a bundled solicited auction for the MRT-3 and LRT Line 2.

“We will process solicited bids for MRT-3 and LRT-2 as if there were no unsolicited proposals and we will process the unsolicited proposals as if there were no solicited bids,” he added.

Batan said all proposals would then be elevated to the NEDA Board for a decision on which option should be pursued.

The agency is looking to privatize the O&M for MRT-3 and LRT-2 as a bundle by early 2025. A build-lease-transfer agreement with Metro Rail Transit Corp. for MRT-3 is set to lapse by then.

The government currently operates the MRT-3 with MRTC.