23 November 2009

Solon pushes making Subic, Clark, Manila as new hubs for Asia-Pacific

A Party-list representative has pushed for the approval of a bill seeking to fully utilize Subic, Clark and Manila as international service and logistics centers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Party-list Rep. Ma. Carissa Coscolluela of Buhay said House Bill 6784 will strengthen and expand the powers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Clark Development Corp. (CDC) to allow them to develop more economic zones in Luzon and ensure local growth and nationwide economic success.

Another measure pending approval in the lower chamber is House Bill 6779 that also proposes that the powers of the SBMA and CDC be strengthened and expanded so they can develop other special economic zones in Luzon to optimize the three airports in Subic, Clark and Manila and two seaports in Subic and Manila and one connecting highway and railway in Luzon. In her proposal, Coscolluela said the development of special economic zones in municipalities nearby, bordering the highway and railway, and connected to the airports and seaports in Subic, Clark and Manila, must be encouraged to bring jobs to the people and promote a higher standard of living and an improved quality of life for all.

She said the development of special economic zones will promote a decentralized local government and private sector-led development that will display the potential that can be achieved when local people set their own priorities and initiatives. Legislators emphasized the need for the state to become aggressive in taking advantage of the strategic infrastructure in Subic, Clark and Manila as international transportation hubs. They said that overcrowded areas will be decongested as industries will be dispersed to other locations in Luzon because of the global accessibility and direct access of Subic, Clark and Manila to domestic and foreign markets worldwide by air.

Both bills provide that the Subic Special Economic and Free-port Zone consists of Olongapo City, Subic, the province of Zambales, the lands occupied by the Subic Naval Base and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, as amended; and within the territorial jurisdiction of Morong and Hermosa in Bataan.

As embodied in the measures, the SBMA shall develop, administer and manage the Subic Special Economic and Free-port Zone, ensuring the free flow of goods and capital based on prescribed rules and regulations, generate employment opportunities in and around the zone, and attract and promote productive local and foreign investments based on the proposals.

As for the role of the CDC, the bills provide that it shall manage, operate and administer the Clark Special Economic Zone which consists of the Clark military reservations and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered and defined by the 1974 MBA located within the territorial jurisdiction of Angeles City, Mabalacat and Porac and the province of Pampanga, and the municipality of Capas, Tarlac.

The SBMA and CDC shall also have the power to develop other Special Economic Zones in Luzon within the same legal framework and mechanisms as Republic Act 7916 or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 and manage and operate these zones and other development programs and project based on the bills. (Fernan Marasigan, Business Mirror)