Bulacan airport’s franchise bill set for Senate plenary discussion

THE bill granting a 50-year franchise to the San Miguel Aerocity, Inc. has been endorsed for plenary deliberation in the Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate Committee on Public Service adopted House Bill No. 7507, allowing the San Miguel Aerocity to construct, develop, establish, operate, and maintain the Bulacan airport and “airport city.”

The new airport is expected to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said in her sponsorship speech, Tuesday evening.

“The only option for NAIA is to find another site, the route two of the world’s mammoth, modern and newest airports — Istanbul and Beijing — has taken. Or reclaim the sea beside it, as what Hong Kong is doing,”

The proposed P1.5-trillion Bulacan airport and airport city are expected to accommodate 100 million passengers annually. San Miguel Aerocity will also build an expressway that will link it to North Luzon Expressway and a rail link through Metro Rail Transit-7.

Ms. Llamanzares also raised its importance in terms of helping the tourism industry and other related sectors to recover from the coronavirus pandemic that locked down the country.

“The employment and tourism-generating capacity of this airport are far-reaching at a time when we are badly hit by the pandemic,” she said.

The 50-year franchise is inclusive of a 10-year maximum period for the design, planning and construction of the airport and airport city. It will also exempt the grantee from direct and indirect taxes during the 10-year construction period.

The franchise may also be revoked should San Miguel Aerocity fail to start construction within one year or start operation within one year after securing a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Other conditions for revocation are the failure to start operating within 12 years from the enactment and the failure to continuously operate for two years.

The grantee will also be entitled to a revenue share worth 12% of the internal rate of return (IRR) annually, upon determination by a competent authority that San Miguel Aerocity has recovered the investment cost. Amount in excess of the 12% IRR will be remitted to the government.

Further, the grantee is mandated to report annually to Congress and may be penalized with a fine of P1 million per day for every day it fails to submit a report.

Also on Tuesday evening, Ms. Llamanzanres recommended the 25-year franchises for the Cruz Telephone Co., International Communications Corp., Tandag Electric and Telephone Co., Inc. FBS Radio Network, Inc. Century Communications Marketing Center, Inc., Caceres Broadcasting Corp., Negros Broadcasting and Publishing Corp., Philippine Collective Media Corp., Davao Light and Power Co., Inc., and the Metro Manila Turf Club. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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