By Paolo G. Montecillo | Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 25, 2012

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, is asserting its right as owner of the company that signed the build-lease-transfer (BLT) contract for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3.

Amid reports that its corporate rival San Miguel Corp. had submitted its own proposal to take over the MRT line on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), MPIC said Wednesday the right to operate and develop the train line belonged to the Pangilinan group alone.

MPIC early last year submitted a proposal to infuse fresh capital into the MRT line to buy new trains and improve its facilities. This was shortly after it publicly disclosed that it had secured a controlling interest in MRT Corp., the private consortium that holds the BLT right for the train.

“MPIC wishes to clarify that its proposal dated Jan. 17, 2011, is not an unsolicited proposal under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law,” said a disclosure by Jose Laurel, MPIC vice president for legal affairs.

“Instead, it is a proposal by MPIC pursuant to the expansion rights granted to MRT Corp. under the existing BLT agreement with the national government,” the disclosure read.

Under MPIC’s proposal, the company said it would spend $300 million to improve the system’s operations and expand its capacity. In exchange, the company said it wanted its concession contract for the train line extended by 15 more years to give it more time to recover its investment.

The expansion of the MRT line aims to address the need to increase its capacity to allow more passengers and alleviate traffic on EDSA, Metro Manila’s major thoroughfare.

“MRTC’s expansion rights under the BLT agreement prevent the government from bidding the MRT 3 capacity expansion project,” MPIC said. “MPIC expects the government to honor MRTC’s rights under the BLT agreement.”

Earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said the government would bid out the privatization contract for the MRT, instead of simply choosing MPIC’s proposal over San Miguel’s or vice versa.