The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is planning to offer the development, operations and management of the Davao International Airport as a solicited project after rejecting the unsolicited proposal submitted by Dennis Uy's Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp.

'Our plan is to make it solicited,' Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia Infrastructure Forum held in Singapore last week, when asked about the Davao airport's development, operations and management.

Data from the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center late last month showed that the development, operations and management of the Davao International Airport was delisted in the PPP pipeline as Chelsea Logistics' unsolicited proposal for the project was rejected by the DOTr on May 27.

Bautista said the unsolicited proposal was rejected as there were many deficiencies including the land valuation for the project. 'It lacked information. So we have to return the unsolicited proposal,' he said.

With an estimated project cost of P56.24 billion, Chelsea Logistics' unsolicited proposal involves undertaking the operation, management and maintenance of all existing and project assets within the Davao Airport.

The unsolicited proposal also covers development works needed to meet the projected demand for airport services in the area.

Bautista said pursuing the unsolicited proposal may take longer than if it were undertaken through the solicited mode, adding that the other airport projects like the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Laguindingan Airport can provide templates.

He also said the agency is of the view that the project can be undertaken as a solicited proposal as there are many parties interested in it.

For now, the DOTr will have to prepare the terms of reference for the solicited project.

Bautista said the DOTr has appointed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to serve as the transaction advisor for the Davao airport.

Meanwhile, Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said the DOTr is looking to offer the operations and maintenance of some airports as a bundle.

The government has yet to identify what airports will form part of the bundle, but a study is currently being undertaken for such.

Batan said the government has tapped the International Finance Corp. and ADB to assist in this undertaking.

During former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III's term, the government had an attempt to offer the operations and maintenance contracts of provincial airports as a bundle with the first package composed of the Puerto Princesa, Bacolod-Silay and Iloilo airports and the second package covering the Davao, Laguindingan and New Bohol (Panglao) airports.

Puerto Princesa was later removed from the bundle as the government found it feasible to bid it out separately.

In 2017, the government decided to scrap the planned bidding for the regional airports to pursue the development of the projects through other modes.

The current administration sees the advantages in bidding out airports as a bundle.

'There's really value to bundling because if the project is too small, the expertise that we're trying to attract will not even look at it,' Batan said.

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