Growth and more growth for CL

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

Even be­fore the pres­i­dency of Noynoy Aquino and Ro­drigo Duterte there was al­ready a def­i­nite plan of the na­tional govern­ment to make the Dios­dado Ma­ca­pa­gal In­ter­na­tional Air­port (DMIA) aka Clark In­ter­na­tional Air­port as the in­ter­na­tional gate­way. There was some­thing started dur­ing the watch of former Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo, but some­how the plan was stalled due to several hic­cups, shall I say. The growth of the Freeport, the eco­nomic zone and the much vaunted Clark Green City is an­chored on the full de­vel­op­ment of Clark air­port. The master plan in­di­cated that.

But some­how it was stalled be­cause for what could be the real rea­son and pos­si­bly only Mr. Ra­mon Ang knows why the news that fil­tered from busi­ness pages of met­ro­pol­i­tan news­pa­pers was that he pro­posed to build a $10 Bil­lion main air gate­way some­where near the former San­g­ley Naval Base, a prox­im­ity of Metro Manila. And an­other one some­where in Bu­la­can prov­ince. A big puz­zle. And big time prop­erty de­vel­op­ers like the Gokong­wei group were also try­ing to part­ner with Mr. Ang. Not to be left be­hind were the Ayala group and the SM group of the Sy fam­ily which also wanted to have a stake. It made Clark In­ter­na­tional Air­port Cor­po­ra­tion of­fi­cials ner­vous. That an­nounced move of Mr. Ang doused cold wa­ter on the ef­fort of mak­ing Clark Air­port as the af­ford­able gate­way. That was few years back. Ang’s plan was tem­po­rar­ily shelved or maybe went to the waste bas­ket, par­tic­u­larly now that the Duterte govern­ment is dead set to make Clark Freeport Zone as ‘the next big me­trop­o­lis’. This in con­so­nance with Duterte’s ‘Build , Build, Build’ pro­gram. The news­pa­pers ‘quoted De­part­ment of Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los Dominguez and was say­ing ‘Clark will soon be the show­case of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s eco­nomic strat­egy.’

Former Bases Con­ver­sion De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity pres­i­dents like Nar­ciso Abaya, Ar­nel Casanova and Board Chair­men like Aloy­sius San­tos and Felic­ity ‘Tong’Payumo

and the many former of­fi­cials of this govern­ment agency since it was struc­tured in 1993 were al­ready say­ing and were of the be­lief that an in­ter­na­tional air­port is the growth driver for Cen­tral and North­ern Lu­zon. Duterte’s eco­nomic man­agers are see­ing it through now.

In the many years I am ob­serv­ing the de­vel­op­ments of this once Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion cov­er­ing it as a news­man in the six­ties and sev­en­ties, till I be­came a di­rec­tor of Clark De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and Clark In­ter­na­tional Cor­po­ra­tion in 2001 to 2019, I know it will morph into some­thing big, maybe big­ger than Manila me­trop­o­lis. And now it’s go­ing so much ground. There’s no doubt the winds of progress is mov­ing to­wards the Pam­panga and Tar­lac di­rec­tion via the Clark Freeport.

Three ex­press­ways, The North Lu­zon Ex­press­way (NLEX), Su­bic-Clark-Tar­lac Ex­press­way(SCTEX) and the Tar­lac-Pan­gasi­nan-La Union( TIPLEX) un­locked the value of the Cen­tral and North Lu­zon re­gions. And ex­pect­edly, the big play­ers the likes of SM De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of the Sy fam­ily, the Ayalas, An­drew Tan’s Me­ga­world and Fil­in­vest of the Go­tia­nuns among oth­ers are ‘al­ready in town’. Let govern­ment speed up con­struc­tion of the rail­ways now. It should have been done long time ago. As a good man­ager will say, ‘the dead­line was yes­ter­day.’

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