The House of Representatives on Monday approved on final reading the bill granting a franchise to San Miguel Corporation to build and operate an international airport in Bulacan.
A total of 218 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 7507, six voted against it, while two abstained.
The franchise seeks to exempt SMC from paying all direct and indirect taxes as well as fees related to the construction, development, and operation of the New Manila International Airport and its commercial complex “Airport City” in Bulakan, Bulacan.
The tax break will last for 10 years or the period when SMC is expected to complete the airport’s construction.
The franchise bill also includes a profit-sharing agreement, requiring SMC’s subsidiary in charge of operating the airport to share half of its profits with the government above a 12-percent profit margin and all profits above 14 percent.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, who voted against the House bill, said the 2,500-hectare airport will result in the displacement of hundreds of families and the loss of livelihood of the fishermen in the area.
She added that the reclamation will destroy marine life and affect the Taliptip River stream, thus “threatening the country’s food security.”
“Aanhin ng ordinaryong mamamayan ang bagong airport sa panahon ng pandemya kung sila mismo ay tatanggalan ng kabuhayan, komunidad at tahanan?” Brosas said.
[Translation: What will ordinary citizens do with a new airport at a time of a pandemic, when they themselves will be forced out of their livelihood, communities, and homes?]
SMC, however, said it is committed to making sure fisherfolk who will be affected by the project will have “good homes, better living conditions, and more capacity to improve their livelihood.”
The New Manila International Airport is seen to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with its projected capacity of 200 million passengers annually. SMC President and COO Ramon Ang said the construction of the aerotropolis will start in October after being delayed by the Justice Department’s review of the contract and the quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.