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05 May 2010

Subic, Clark stakeholders urge ‘consistency’ after polls

CLARK FREEPORT — Whoever wins the upcoming presidential elections on May 10 must maintain the existing business structure and policies already at work in the Subic-Clark economic corridor.

This was the call made by business and community leaders from the Subic Bay Freeport and the Clark Freeport at the recent “Subic-Clark Logistics Corridor: Milestones and Prospects” forum, which was held at Clark’s Holiday Inn with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as guest of honor.

The stakeholders also expressed concern that the “impressive” economic momentum in the former US military bases, which managed to post economic gains despite the devastation wrought by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the major financial crises in 1997 and the recent recession, “might be halted if the next administration will enact major changes in governance, particularly in business policies.”

About 500 persons attended the forum, mostly from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corp. (CDC), North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail), and chambers of commerce in both the Subic and Clark free ports.

They were joined by key officials from the national and local governments, who presented the achievements of the Arroyo administration in Subic and Clark, and plans for the development of the region.

In the forum, SBMA administrator Armand Arreza and CDC executive vice-president Philip Panlilio both expressed optimism that “consistency in governance and business policies” will be maintained in the aftermath of the May 10 polls.

They also expressed confidence that both the SBMA’s five-year strategic plan for the Subic Bay Freeport (2010-2015), and CDC’s comprehensive master plan for Clark Freeport would sustain the development momentum in the two economic zones.

“The next administration will surely see the gains and benefits that was made during our term,” said Arreza, whose five-year strategic plan for Subic emphasizes development expansion into the surrounding areas of Olongapo City, Subic town in Zambales, and Morong in Bataan.

Edgardo Pamintuan, former chair of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council, meanwhile reported on the body’s achievements in pursuit of President Arroyo’s vision to develop the Subic-Clark corridor into a highly-competitive international services and logistics center in the Asia-Pacific region.

“I believe that we have laid the foundation on which future public servants can build with the assurance of strength and the stability,” Pamintuan also said.

Despite the optimism among SBMA, CDC and SCADC officials, representatives from the business sector said they were “a bit concerned” about the coming transition.

“As in business, when there is a change in management, there would be some disruptions. Hopefully, the next administration would implement existing policies, and leave alone business so business will thrive,” said Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce president Danny Piano.

To ensure the steady growth of trade in the Subic-Clark corridor beyond the elections, the stakeholders signed a “Declaration of Cooperation Between the Public and Private Sectors of Subic and Clark” and presented it to President Arroyo.

Signatories of the document represented the SCADC, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), SBMA, CDC, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), and Northrail.

Officials of business organizations SBFCC and the Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA) also signed the accord. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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