Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star)
June 24, 2019 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The awarding of the original proponent status (OPS) for the bridge that would connect Malay, Aklan to Boracay island can be expected soon, according to Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
“We’re still finalizing the OPS. We’re still processing,” Villar told reporters on the sidelines of the ocular inspection of the first segment of the C5 Southlink project.
San Miguel Corp., through its infrastructure arm San Miguel Holdings Corp., earlier submitted an unsolicited proposal for the P5.48 billion Boracay bridge project.
The DPWH earlier affirmed that the company submitted the complete proposal of the project in January.
Villar said once the project receives the OPS from the DPWH, it will be submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for evaluation.
While Villar expects the granting of OPS by the DPWH soon, he declined to give a target for when the project will get approved by the NEDA.
“Well for the NEDA, I can’t preempt them because they have their own processes,” Villar said.
Once approved by the NEDA, the unsolicited proposal will undergo a Swiss challenge in which other companies are invited to submit counterproposals to that of the proponent. The OPS holder will decide to match these counter-proposals to retain control of the project.
SMC’s proposal is a 1.2-kilometer limited-access bridge infrastructure between Boracay Island and the main island of Panay (Malay, Aklan).
“The bridge is not envisioned to cater to vehicular through-traffic, so as not to congest the island, but will be provided with loading/unloading areas on both ends to process the movement of commuters, solid waste, goods and supplies,” the DPWH said.
Last year, Boracay island, the country’s flagship tourist destination, was closed from tourists for six months to pave way for its rehabilitation after it was plagued by environmental issues.
Boracay soft opened on Oct. 26 and now follows a carrying capacity to ensure the sustainability of the island.
A study commissioned by the DENR showed that Boracay’s carrying capacity is only 55,757 people per day, including its residents. Only 19,215 tourists are allowed to be on the island at a certain time, with 6,405 tourists allowed to enter the island per day.