[ Manila Bulletin Online ] July 22, 2008
The board of directors of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA, formerly the Public Estates Authority) headed by its chairman, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., recently approved the allocation of R16.7 million for the hiring of a consultancy firm tasked to prepare the pre-feasibility study and master plan to convert Sangley Point in Cavite City into an international logistics hub with modern seaport and airport with a reclamation component.
Under Executive Order No. 629 signed by President Arroyo on June 21, 2007, the PRA, together with the city government of Cavite City and other government agencies was tasked to form an inter-agency executive committee to oversee the planning and implementation of the project to be chaired by Revilla, and co-chaired by Cavite City Mayor Bernardo S. Paredes.
Revilla sees the project as an opportunity for all the agencies involved to work harmoniously and "give our economy the much needed boost through investments that this project will ultimately attract, and place the Philippines in the limelight of global trade and commerce. This will bring our country back to financial competitiveness and erase the demeaning tag of being Asia’s laggard."
"Once completed, it is expected to be Asia’s one of the best, rivaling existing hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore. These two countries are currently Asia’s leaders in cargo handling and transshipment operations. The Sangley development project would directly and laterally increase local and foreign investments, international trade, job opportunities and tourism related activities. This will also be our answer to complaints constantly raised by foreign investors that we lack the infrastructure required to make their investments viable," Revilla said.
For more than 200 years since the 16th century, the province of Cavite had been the main duty-free port and depository for trade and goods between Asia and Europe.
Spanish galleons made two round trips annually between Cavite and Acapulco in Mexico laden with Chinese silk and porcelain; perfumes, spices and cotton from India; precious stones and silver from Europe and South America.
Forecasts made by ESCAP (the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) indicated that Southeast Asia will need 150 additional container berths by 2015. Berths capable of handling the giant super-Panamax container ships (currently the largest class of container vessel plying the seas).
These will be for the increasing traffic across the Pacific, with most of the cargo for Hong Kong, but a large part for transshipment to Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand Malaysia and Singapore. Despite additional berths being planned for construction by Singapore, there will be a shortage of 255 berths in the next decade, the agency said.