By Bebot Sison Jr. (The Philippine Star) Updated August 27, 2009 12:00 AM
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – Concerned government agencies and local government units have endorsed the proposal of Sen. Richard Gordon to optimize the use of the airports in Subic, Clark and Manila, the seaports in Subic and Manila, and the connecting highway and railway in Luzon.
Olongapo City senior executive assistant Mike Pusing said several agencies like the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Clark Development Corp. (CDC) have expressed their support to Gordon’s bill that would also allow SBMA and CDC to develop more economic zones in adjacent areas.
Agencies supporting the bill include the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Department of Finance (DOF), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
Gordon, who heads the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, also received assurances from representatives of local government units (LGUs) in Zambales and Bataan that they would support development thrusts in the Subic-Clark growth corridor as envisioned in Gordon’s bill.
According to Gordon, Senate Bill 143 seeks to maximize the vision of the Subic-Clark growth corridor to decongest Manila and open up more livelihood opportunities in areas between the Subic, Clark and Manila, as well as along the 94-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).
SBMA Administrator and chief executive officer Armand Arreza, meanwhile, suggested that funds for the acquisition of lands near Subic and Clark that will be converted into new economic zones could be sourced out from the five percent gross revenue tax collected by SBMA and CDC from their business locators.
“The challenge would be in the consolidation of the adjoining lands, and to spur the development of the prospective ecozones we shall need adequate funding,” Arreza said in a statement.
He said most of the lands along the SCTEX are already titled, according to a recent survey conducted by the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC).
In the same public hearing on Gordon’s bill, PNR chairman Mike Defensor pledged his agency’s support to the development of the Subic-Clark growth corridor.
As a concrete manifestation of its support, Defensor said the PNR will be starting the Northrail project next month to enhance the benefits of the SCTEx and encourage more trade and livelihood opportunities in the Central and Northern Luzon regions.
He added that, in particular, the Northrail project will further boost existing means to transport commuters and products in the area.
Gordon also asked the concerned agencies and LGUs represented in the hearing to form a technical working group to collate suggested measures for incorporation in his proposal.
He added the bill will be presented for deliberation within two weeks.
Gordon brushed off concerns by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) that Senate Bill 143 will just duplicate the PEZA law by creating another agency to oversee economic zones.