SMHC to build Pangasinan expressway

By Gabriel L. Cardinoza | The Manila Times
July 11, 2023

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan: The provincial government here on Monday, July 10, accepted the offer of the San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC) to build an expressway that would link eastern and western Pangasinan towns.

In a press conference, Gov. Ramon Guico 3rd said that the project will start from his hometown in Binalonan to the capital town of Lingayen.

“This is what is needed for us to spur the growth of the province — accessibility by land, by air, and by sea,” Guico said.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has authorized Guico to enter into and sign a joint venture agreement and a tollway concession agreement with the SMHC for the implementation of the project.

Guico personally asked SP for the authority during the regular session here on Monday.

The expressway project, which SMHC had called Pangasinan Link Expressway (PLEx), will be 42.76-kilometers (km) long and will cost P34 billion. It will be completed in four years.

“It’s a sweetheart deal. It will be built at no expense to the provincial government,” said Guico.

When completed, PLEx will reduce travel time from Binalonan to Lingayen from 1 hour and 40 minutes to only 20 to 30 minutes.

Its segments will be from Binalonan to Manaoag, 6.9 km; Manaoag to Calasiao, 11.3 km; Calasiao spur, 2.39 km; and Calasiao to Lingayen, 22.7 km.

“After 35 years, the whole project will be turned over to Pangasinan province,” Guico said.

Guico said that the expressway was a political campaign promise.

“So, when we assumed office, we started to work. We looked for potential investors, we looked for partners, we looked for corporations in the Philippines, and even international corporations to help us realize this vision,” said Guico.

The SMHC was the only company that submitted a complete unsolicited joint venture proposal for the expressway project to the provincial government. The company also built the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union expressway, which traverses the provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan, and La Union.

Aside from linking the opposite sides of the province, Guico also said that the provincial government will also have a share in the revenues to be generated by the expressway.

He said that the province will be entitled to five percent in the toll revenues and commercial development of the expressway.

The province is also entitled to 30 percent of the earnings before tax, after the proponent has exceeded a project’s internal rate of return of 10 percent. Should it exceed the project internal rate of return of 12 percent, the province will have a share of 70 percent earnings before tax, the governor added.

Guico said that the Binalonan-Lingayen segment of the PLEx will be the first phase of the expressway. He said that the second phase will be from Lingayen to Alaminos City.