"SMC has to clarify its relationship with Silvertides."
Last year, around September, the Department of Transportation gave the go signal for conglomerate San Miguel Corp. to start the construction of the $15-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulacan.
Aside from signing the concession agreement for the development of the international airport with SMC which will allow the project to finally take off, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade signed the project’s notice to proceed, which gives SMC the greenlight to start with the project’s construction anytime.
Dubbed as the Bulacan Aerotropolis, the new airport, which will be built on a 2,400-hectare property in Bulakan, Bulacan, will have four runways, eight taxiways and three terminals. It will be able to handle up to 100 million passengers per year once fully completed in five years.
The project is projected to decongest air traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City and will also help improve traffic in Metro Manila. Travelers going in and out of the National Capital Region via airplane will be diverted to Bulacan, a province outside but still near the country’s capital region.
Tugade gave SMC the go-signal for the project as SMC was said to have complied with all the requirements including securing an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
After supposedly securing an ECC for its “airport project,” SMC issued a statement assuring everyone that the company “will work closely with all stakeholder groups to make sure this vital infrastructure project will be sustainable and will deliver positive economic, social and environmental benefits.”
Or will it? Are we to trust their words?
Firstly, it was not SMC which secured an ECC but Silvertides Holdings Holdings Corp. Although it is reportedly linked to SMC, the public has yet to be informed of the set-up between the two companies as while it is Silvertides which holds the ECC, it is SMC which has reportedly bagged the project.
Now for the bombshell. In August last year, former press attaché to Washington, Ado Paglinawan wrote to DENR questioning why was it only its regional office which issued an ECC instead of the national office considering the magnitude of the project.
Last month, the DENR, through lawyer Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, undersecretary for Mining Concerns and Climate Change Services, replied to Paglinawan, a copy of the letter furnished to this writer, clarifying the issue on SMC’s supposed ECC for the airport project.
Rebuelta-Teh wrote: Based on the report of Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region 3, please be informed of the following:
1.The Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to Silvertides Holdings Corp. (Silvertides) on June 14, 2019 was for a land development project located at Barangays. Taliptip and Bambang, Bulakan, Bulacan, not for an airport development project.
Now, what exactly was the SMC airport project Tugade had given the go-signal to proceed? What concession agreement was he talking about?
Didn’t Tugade review all the documentary requirements submitted to his office concerning the project? This is a multi-billion project. I am pretty sure he will be personally attending to it instead of delegating the task to his subordinates.
So, what was this airport project SMC has been bragging all along? Did it submit doctored documents to cover-up for the lack of ECC for its airport project? I’m not sure it will resort to that considering its stature.
But if it doesn’t have an ECC for an airport project, what is this all about? Land speculation?
A big-time project such as this will make prices of real estate in that area to soar sky-high. According to sources in the area, properties in Bulakan, Bulacan are now selling at P1,000 per square meter from a lowly P10 per square meter before the news broke out an airport will be built there. So, how much is Silvertides or SMC will be making for the 3,300 hectares of fishponds it has acquired for this project assuming it was all indeed about land speculation for some real estate project?
Either or, this could be a rip-off and someone has to answer for this. Tugade has to explain why he has given a go-signal for a still non-existent project given the lack of an ECC for an airport development.
SMC, for its part, has to clarify its relation with Silvertides and its real intention given the fact it had not acquired an ECC for an airport development but for land development.
And after addressing these issues, we can go back to addressing a more serious concern—its environment impact.
But for now, just please show us where the proposed airport is.