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PEZA to Mactan Airport: Expand to the east, not MEZ

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Instead of expanding to the area that is currently occupied by the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ), the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) is urged to seriously consider building the second runway in the east.

This would, however, displace about 12,000 families. Nonetheless, the long-term economic implication of expanding to the MEZ area should be given greater weight, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito B. Plaza said in a memorandum circular issued on October 1, 2019.

Plaza said MCIAA’s plan to build a second runway in the MEZ area would affect more than 60,000 directly employed workers and cause the ecozone’s 150 locators to incur losses of at least P150 billion.

The memorandum did not specify how this figure was arrived at, but noted how the MCIAA’s plan has “further stoked jitters” among the locators who are already apprehensive about the government’s planned tax reform package.

Plaza pointed out that there are social costs whichever option would be taken by the MCIAA, “but the long-term economic implication of the proposed transfer of the MEZ locators should be given great weight.”

Under an unsolicited proposal for the 50-year integrated master plan of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, the second runway would be built in the MEZ area and the 150 locators of the ecozone would be relocated to a proposed reclamation area in the Magellan Bay, off Barangay Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City.

In his September 18, 2019 statement, MCIAA general manager and CEO Steve Y. Dicdican said the reclaimed area would be developed into a “smart city” with direct access to a proposed cargo terminal at the airport.

Plaza, in her memorandum circular, said there had been preliminary discussions with MCIAA about the planned expansion, but “PEZA has not been formally and officially presented the necessary details of MCIAA’s proposal in so far as its plans on the affected MEZ locators are concerned.”

“At the very least, no details have yet been provided where and how the locators will be relocated (or compensated, if at all). Not having received a written comprehensive and detailed proposal from MCIAA, there is yet nothing on PEZA’s table to officially consider,” Plaza stated.

In behalf of the locators, Plaza said her office has “started inquiring and discussing with MCIAA what the proposal is about”. Plaza is concurrently the MEZ administrator.

She noted that there are “contracts of lease that need to be respected” at MEZ and stressed that a presidential proclamation has declared that the area should be used for economic purposes only.

“Rest assured that PEZA will exhaust all available means and options to ensure that the MEZ locators stay and flourish where they are and their operations remain peaceful and undisturbed,” Plaza added.

Dicdican earlier said the process of building the second runway and relocating the MEZ locators would take at least 7 to 10 years.

He had assured that relocation would be undertaken with “minimal disruption” to the operations of the MEZ companies.

Related story: MEZ relocation ‘best strategy’ for 2nd runway project

The reclamation project and second runway are components of the unsolicited proposal that airport terminal operator GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) submitted on June 7, 2017.

This unsolicited proposal, which is estimated to cost P208 billion, is undergoing evaluation by the National Economic and Development Authority Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC).

GMCAC was granted original proponent status (OPS) for the project in 2018. If the project is approved by NEDA ICC, a Swiss challenge will be held to invite other companies to challenge GMCAC’s proposal.

But with an OPS, GMCAC would have the right to match any competing bid.

GMCAC is currently undertaking the P17.5-billion upgrading project of MCIA, the first airport public-private partnership project in the country.

GMCAC’s 25-year concession agreement, however, includes only the construction of the second terminal and renovation or upgrading of the first terminal, among others.

It does not include the operation, maintenance and improvement of the runway and other airside facilities, which currently remain with the MCIAA. (Ventures Cebu)

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