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Ayala-AEV tandem offers P11.66-B premium payment for CALAX tollroad

Despite protests from the group of San Miguel Corp., the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) proceeded with the bidding for the P35.4 billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) Project yesterday.

The consortium of Ayala Corp. and a unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures emerged as the highest bidder for the four-lane, 47-kilometer closed-system toll expressway that will connect the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

The Ayala and Aboitiz-led Team Orion offered a premium of P11.66 billion for the project, besting two other bidders, namely the Pangilinan group and a Malaysian company that built South of Manila’s Skyway.

The CALAX bidding involves the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the tollroad, which happened to be DPWH’s third public-private partnership (PPP) project.

MPCALA Holdings Inc., which is composed of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., DMCI Holdings Inc. and Leighton Holdings Inc., gave a premium bid of P11.33 billion, while Malaysia’s MTD Capital offered a bid of P922 million.

Meanwhile, DPWH opted not to open the offer of the fourth, but disqualified bidder Optimal Infrastructure Development Inc (OIDI), a unit of San Miguel, after the government rejected the  manifestation to open the financial envelop.

Following the bidding, DPWH officials asked the San Miguel representatives to leave the premises of the department after they attempted, but prevented, to open their sealed financial bid before the media.

DPWH earlier disqualified OIDI due to non-compliance with bid security, among other violations of the bidding rules. Should not for the technically, the San Miguel group could have been the likely winner as it submitted a bid of P20.11 billion, way above the amount offered by the Ayala consortium.

San Miguel earlier said the diversified conglomerate will question in court DPWH’s decision to reject its offer for CALAX.

Raoul Eduardo Romulo, San Miguel head of treasury services said they did not accept the return of its technical and financial envelopes, adding the envelope will remain seal and under the custody and accountability of DPWH.

Romulo said San Miguel will be studying all its legal options following the bidding for CALAX.

“To manifest Optimal Infrastructure’s sincere participation in this project, we are attaching an exact duplicate of the P20.105 billion concession payment as our bid amount,” Romulo said in a letter to DPWH.

The San Miguel official, meanwhile, told reporters. “We have disclosed [the amount] to the public. Personally I feel bad for the Filipino people because it is in essence what a competitive was, and ours was a very aggressive and competitive bid as you have seen.”

“The Republic and the DPWH would have been the alternate beneficiary here. Unfortunately because of a mere typographical error, which they have allowed in the other bids, we were not given that leeway. It’s a sad day for us but we hope that the remedies will see us through,” he added.

CALAX has interchanges in Kawit, Daang Hari, Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, Silang, Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay, Laguna Blvd. and Laguna Technopark, which will benefit residents and hundreds of economic zone locators that comprise over 50 percent of all ecozone locators in the country.

When sought for her reaction regarding the bidding and protest from San Miguel, Cosette Canilao, PPP Center chief highlighted the need to to protect the integrity of the bidding process.

“They decided that the security [of San Miguel] is imperfect so the committee disqualified the company. In this case, the highest complying bid is Team Orion,” Canilao said.

She also defended the DPWH, saying the agency just followed the bidding rules in disqualifying the San Miguel group.

“We need to protect the integrity of the process and the program. We need to look at the bigger picture rather than this particular project,” she stressed.

Canilao, however, encouraged San Miguel to file a motion for reconsideration before the Office of the President or the Office of the Secretary of the DPWH.

Earlier, San Miguel filed a motion for reconsideration for the P1.72 billion Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS) project.