President Duterte’s wish to exit via Sangley when he steps down in office in 2022, may just happen, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
During a special edition of Daily Tribune’s online program “Straight Talk” Saturday, Tugade said the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Cavite government will make up for the delay in the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) and see through its completion in time for 2022.
“The SPIA where we have a deal with the local government to have a massive development in Sangley, Cavite is still under negotiation and discussion stage with appropriate government authorities,” Tugade disclosed.
“The President wishes to take off from Sangley (Airport) in 2022, then so be it… We will make up for the delays in our projects in Cavite,” the cabinet member added.
During the inauguration of the SPIA in February last year, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte vowed that his farewell plane ride to Davao City in 2022 will be through the P500-billion SPIA.
Tugade pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the development of the project but noted that the local government has set its catch-up plans.
Despite multiple headwinds, Tugade is still placing his bet on the China-backed project to ease congestion in the country’s primary air hub.
The Transportation secretary is also upbeat that Filipinos would be able to board the country’s first underground train line by year-end.
The P355-billion Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) will partially operate to serve commuters before the year ends.
“We intend that the partial operability of the subway project will happen this year. We will open three stations, one in Valenzuela and two in Quezon City,” Tugade affirmed.
He explained that “partial operability” is a concept widely used by the Duterte administration to ensure that projects — especially transportation projects — become useful even before the target completion date.
“Partial operability is a concept started by the Duterte administration. We want our projects to initially start even if the whole project is not yet finished from A to Z,” the cabinet member said.
Three stations to open
Based on the government’s plan, the first phase of the massive MMSP includes the construction of the first three underground stations: The East Avenue, Quezon Avenue and North Avenue stations.
The initial phase also involves rolling stock, electro-mechanical system and track works.
The transportation agency began clearing works and fencing activities in Valenzuela City and Quezon City in December 2019.
The government broke ground on the first three stations in February 2019 after the Transportation department signed a P51-billion deal with the Shimizu joint venture, which consists of Shimizu Corp., Fujita Corp., Takenaka Civil Engineering Co. Ltd. and EEI Corp.
Apart from SPIA, the DoTr is also eyeing to roll out a so-called water jeepney but it was also pushed back because of the pandemic.
The water jeepneys were supposed to sail from the Cavite City Port Terminal to the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex in Pasay City and to the Liwasang Bonifacio Terminal (Plaza Lawton) in Manila and vice versa.
Operated by Shogun Ships Co. Inc. and Seaborne Shipping Company Inc., the ferry service was a strategy to perk up interest for water travel among commuters.
SPIA delayed over financial woes
The Cavite government is still assessing the financial capabilities of Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp. to support the project.
This came after MacroAsia incurred a net loss of P856.7 million in the first nine months of 2020 due to the harrowing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the aviation industry.
MacroAsia president and chief operating officer Joseph Chua previously told reporters that the company is considering tapping other firms under the Lucio Tan Group (LTG).
MacroAsia bagged the first phase of the $10-billion four-runway airport project in Cavite with consortium partner China Communications Construction Co. Ltd.
The P208.5-billion Phase 1 of the SPIA was set to break ground on the second quarter of 2020 but it was delayed anew because of the global health crisis.
Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla Jr. said the consortium will break ground once all documentary requirements are completed. Until then, works for the first phase of the airport developmental deal remains pending.
The SPIA is a massive air hub envisioned to have four runways and terminals capable of handling 100 million passengers annually. It is three times the design limits of Ninoy Aquino International Airport.