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Sharp Edges

Stop further delays on the new Bulacan Aerocity and Ecozone

/ 10:27 AM July 05, 2022

The presidential veto on the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan exposed its raging war for the past six years against vested interests protecting Clark International Airport (CIA) and the old Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The veto was recommended by former Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Duterte’s economic team citing “substantial fiscal and economic risks”. Three reasons, first, it will increase competition among Ecozones and Freeports citing nearby Clark, Subic, Bataan and other Ecozones. Second, it will become a separate territory, out of control from the Bureau of Customs, DENR and DND. And third, it promotes provincial economic competition and the “principle of “subsidiarity” (which states that if a local authority can perform a function, it should not be taken by a higher or national authority).

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SMC President Ramon Ang thanked BBM for recognizing that the proposed Bulacan Freeport bill can be further improved. “We look forward to working with his administration towards perfecting this”.

Malacanang’s press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles clarified that the Aerocity and ecozone project continues and will not be affected by the veto. She maintained that PBBM fully supports the Bulacan airport city Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (BACSEZFA) and his veto of House Bill 7575 was meant to cure its defects and protect it from future constitutional challenges.

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Senators Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, Presidential sister Imee Marcos, and House rep. Joey Salceda committed to refiling the creation of the Bulacan special economic zone and freeport. Proposed actions are removal of “extraordinary powers” inn freeport , provide checks and balances , and subject the new ecozone under the rules and regulations of CREATE law and the Fiscal tax incentives Board.

Advisers of former President Duterte poured billions of pesos in government money in continuously rehabilitating, expanding and improving Clark and NAIA airports for the past six years, while at the same time dribbling and nitpicking on this “visionary idea” of Ang and his mentor former ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. Lots of questions were raised against the proposed airport, from financing, proximity to Clark, environmental questions, reclamation, LGU concerns and now these “fiscal and economic risks”.

For the past six years, these advisers insisted that the two runways operations of both Clark and Naia are enough even if the and the resultant airport congestions are happening . As a matter of fact , no additional runways were built for both under their watch.

On the other hand, this new P740-B new Bulacan airport will have two runways in 2025 (three years from now) and a total four parallel runways by 2027. This is five times the capacity of NAIA with 200 takeoffs and landings per hour, servicing 360,000 passengers per day or 130M passengers a year.

A world class airport terminal will be built together with a modern and interlinked infrastructure network that includes expressways and railways. If finished, an airport passenger in Rizal Park will be in the new airport in just 20 minutes. This is in the tradition with Singapore’s Changi International Airport, Qatar’s Hamad , Tokyo’s Haneda , and Seoul’s Incheong among others.

The Aerocity and Ecozone is 100 percent privately funded, at no cost to government in a build-operate-transfer scheme under a 50-year concession. There are three other major components aside from the airport. First is a “Silicon valley” focused on semi-conductor manufacturing, industrial batteries, electric vehicle makers and other new and emerging tech industries . Second, A “University City” in coordination with with leading universities in the US, Europe and China and third, a “Medical Center” with tie-up with leading California hospitals like Stanford.

These initiatives in aviation, manufacturing, technology, health care and tourism will reap $200B in yearly export revenues, a great boost to our country’s GDP. On the ground, this Aerocity and Ecozone will create seven modern satellite cities around the airport sprawled over 9,000 hectares of mostly land under water. An Aerotropolis , envisioned by urban designer Jun Palafox, will be home to more than 2 million people in the next 30 years.

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In reality, this is a “no-brainer issue” considering that no government funds will be spent for construction and operations. Also, after the 50 year concession contract, government will totally own it. Imagine the six satellite cities that will be built in these areas and millions of jobs and opportunities it will create.

And now, the oppositors are claiming ecozone competition, or LGU disruptions, special territories, hello! Please think of our future 20 to 30 years from now.

We’ve had enough of the congestion at NAIA that is costing the economy P1 trillion a year. Metro Manila needs new space with traffic congestion costing another 1 trillon a year and the severe joblessness of about more than 30 million Filipinos.

It is high time to modernize our Philippine economy and improve our image and airport facilities before foreign investors.

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