Darwin G. Amojelar | The Standard | May 12, 2016

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. may revive its proposal to the new administration to expand and take over the operation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, its top executive said Tuesday.

"I think a great deal of it will depend on who the next president is going to be. So, we just have to take the temperature. We'd like to [revive proposal] but I guess we just have to wait and see," MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan told reporters.

"MRT-3 was an unsolicited proposal. LRT was a bid, but similar issues, except MRT-3 is worse," he added.

Metro Pacific earlier proposed a $524-million expansion of MRT 3 but the Transportation Department rejected the offer, opting for an equity value buyout of MRT 3.

Transportation pursued the buyout although Congress did not approve the P53.9-billion allocation in the 2015 budget for the government’s takeover of MRT.

President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 126 in 2013, directing the Transportation and Finance Department to buy out MRT 3 from Metro Rail Transit Corp., pursuant to the build-lease-transfer agreement.

Metro Pacific signed a cooperation agreement in 2011 with several groups holding rights and interests in MRT 3, including MRTC, Metro Rail Transit Holdings Inc., Metro Rail Transit 2 Inc. and Monumento Rail Transit Corp., giving the Salim-owned company an option to acquire 48 percent. Metro Pacific has not exercised the option.

State-run Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines hold an 80-percent economic interest in MRT 3, while creditors of MRTC own the remaining stake.

MRT 3, which runs along Edsa from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, is serving 500,000 passengers a day, way beyond its rated capacity of 350,000.

The line has a fleet of 73 Czech-made air-conditioned rail cars.

Light Rail Manila Corp., a joint venture between Ayala Corp. and MPIC, won the P65-billion LRT Line 1 extension project, with a premium bid of P9.35 billion in September 2014.

LRMC is responsible for the construction of the 11.7-kilometer extension from the present end point in Baclaran to the Niog area in Bacoor, Cavite.

The extended rail line is expected to help increase the capacity of LRT 1 from 500,000 to 800,000 passengers daily and benefit more than four million residents in Cavite and the southern part of Metro Manila.

Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. controls 55 percent of the consortium while AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. has 35 percent. Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd. owns 10 percent.