17 March 2014

Group wants Clark, Subic free ports fully developed

ANGELES CITY — A group led by a former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief and an anti-poverty crusader is pushing for the full development and utilization of the Clark and Subic free ports to ignite and sustain economic development in Central Luzon.

Former LTO Chief Reynaldo Berroya and Alfonso “Sonny” Dobles of this city said their 10-million strong Guardians International Unified Command (GIUC) “is determined” to end poverty by asking the national government to “walk their talk” in connection with turning the Clark International Airport (CIA) at the Clark Freeport into one of the two main international airports of the country. Dobles was recently chosen as GIUC president while Berroya is the group’s director.

“Our group will be aggressive in pushing for the development of the two free ports in Pampanga and Zambales until the Filipino people are liberated from the bondage of poverty, ” Dobles said in an interview on Saturday. “It will be remembered by the children of tomorrow that the Guardians pushed for progress and sustainable and equitable development.”

Meanwhile, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia earlier said the Bureau of Internal Revenue was able to collect P1.39 billion, or 8.9 percent higher than the P1.27 billion collected in 2012 while the Bureau of Customs made an impressive lift in revenue collection from P6.32 billion in 2012 to P10.8 billion last year for an unprecedented combined cash collection of P12.2 billion. The collection, he added, attested to the sustained growth of Subic.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is the implementing arm of the government for the development the 262-square-mile (670-square-kilometer) area of Subic.

There are at last 89,500 workers at Subic while Clark has a work force of 72,000.

“We could have thousands more jobs if we can fully use Clark and Subic. We have to improve the surroundings such as the infrastructures,” Dobles said.

Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan earlier released statements, urging the full development of the CIA as one of the premier international airports of the country. He cited the “congestion” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) terminals in Metro Manila.

Pangilinan and his group are determined to pour billions of pesos for a terminal at the CIA. He also expressed interest in investing on a high-speed train that will connect the CIA to the Naia terminals.

The 32-year-old Naia Terminal 1 airport, tagged by several international groups as one of the worst in the world, is designed to handle at least 4.5 million passengers yearly but is forced to accommodate 8 million passengers a year. The terminals of the Naia, including Terminal I, had at least 32.865 million local and international passengers in 2013. There were 31.877 million passengers in 2012, according to data gathered by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

There are at least 3,027 passengers per day, or 96,823 per month, at the CIA.

In 2012, there were at least 1.3 million passengers. The Clark International Airport Corp. has yet to issue the total number of passengers for 2013 but reports said it could be lower compared to 2012.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arnel Paciano Casanova is also calling for the full development of the Clark Freeport and its airport in Pampanga to help decongest Metro Manila.

Casanova, who spoke at the recent Clark Challenge: Stakeholders’ Summit at the Widus Convention Center here, said the development of the 4,500-hectare free port, including the ClA, is necessary to sustain the economic development of Pampanga and nearby provinces in Central and North Luzon.

Casanova said the 7-percent growth achieved by the country in 2013 could be sustained and improved if other cities such as Clark would be developed.

Casanova said, “Clark has the biggest airport in the country in terms of land area.”

The CIA sits on a 2,100-hectare area compared to the Naia’s 600 hectares of land.

CIA President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano said if the Naia is decongested, its operations will “max out” in 2018.

There are at least 168 flights per week at the CIA, including daily Clark-Dubai flights of Emirates and Doha-Clark flight via Qatar Airways. The other airlines operating at the CIA are Cebu Pacific, Tigerair, Asiana, Dragon­air and Jin Air.

Other GIUC officers in the recent meeting in Amsic, Angeles City, included Leborio Jangao, known as the founder and father of the GIUC, and GIUC advisor Reynaldo Pineda of Angeles City. (Joey Pavia, Business Mirror)