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Baguio monorail also on SSS' shopping list.

State-owned Social Security System (SSS) is also mulling over investing in key infrastructure projects in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), such as the P1.4-billion monorail system being planned for tourist magnet Baguio City.

'We're looking to unlock the potential of the Cordilleras for infrastructure development. There are foreign big capital talking with SSS and perhaps, in partnership with Megawide (Construction Corp.), we'll be able to unlock the potential of the vegetable basket of the country in the Cordilleras,' SSS Chair Amado Valdez said in a press briefing on Friday.

SSS has come in as an institutional investor in Megawide, acquiring an initial 5.17-percent stake in the latter but with a commitment to more or less double this interest.

Valdez said the Cordillera region was an 'area that's waiting for development,' adding he would like SSS to participate in infrastructure-building to boost connectivity to this region, whether via airports or highways, over the long term.

'In fact, in my recent visit to Baguio, I had a talk with the mayor. There's a possibility of putting up a commuter monorail in the city itself. It's part of the shopping list of the SSS, but of course, this will be dependent on our ability to make employers religiously pay their obligations,' Valdez said.

In 2015, a feasibility study was undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR) on the need for an environment-friendly monorail system to address traffic and air pollution in Baguio and La Trinidad. It was estimated that a total of P1.4 billion would be needed to build a 5.2-kilometer system from Baguio to the provincial capitol.

For Metro Manila, SSS and Megawide also announced the creation of a working group to submit an unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

But Valdez said SSS would also want to help develop the countryside and help make the distribution of wealth in the country more equitable.

'People's capital in the form of contribution (to SSS) will be used in low-hanging fruits like airports, railroads, highways, tollroads, so we'll reverse the mantra of the rich becoming richer. Now we could say that once we have implemented this partnership with Megawide, later we want to hear the refrain that peoples' capital is becoming richer and richer because we are able to parlay the funds of the people in these low-hanging projects,' Valdez said.

If SSS and Megawide could unlock good recurring income from its airport projects in Cebu, Clark-and possibly Naia-Valdez said that in the future, part of the earnings could be invested in 'missionary' destinations.

Valdez said SSS' participation would be in the form of a 'super minority' stake. Or, if there would be a number of players, SSS would possibly form a voting bloc with Megawide, he added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 15, 2018
Words:538
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