Thursday, September 25 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]
CLARK FREEPORT: Officers and men of the 600th Air Base Wing of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and their families are preparing to pull out of this Freeport, a high-ranking PAF official announced.
Newly installed Wing Commander Col. Francisco Cruz said the PAF has commissioned the creation of a master development plan citing Crow Valley in Tarlac Province and Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga as new locations for the 600th Air Base Wing.
Cruz said, over the cable program Aksyon Central Luzon Special Edition hosted by veteran broadcaster Sonny Lopez Jr., the total cost of the pullout and transfer of personnel, equipment, and infrastructure from Clark is estimated at P8 billion.
“We are just waiting for the master development plan to be finished before we proceed with the pull out of personnel,” Cruz said, adding that only a small contingent will remain in Clark.
Cruz stressed that the presence of PAF here is vital for the Freeport in terms of security citing the President’s vision for Clark when she declared the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport as the country’s premier gateway.
At present, the PAF is based inside the 333-hectare Air Force City here. The area has 668 housing quarters and accommodates 4,318 people mostly composed of enlisted personnel, dependents, and civilian employees.
The PAF had been staying in a designated area here known as the Clark Air Base Command when this Freeport used to be the largest US military installation in the Asia Pacific Region.
They have continued to secure Clark environs after the U.S. bases pull out following the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
The volcanic eruption and bases pull out prompted government to proclaim Republic Act (RA) 7227, also known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, and the creation of Executive Order (EO) 80, making Clark as the implementing arm of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).-- Mark Louie P. Roxas