The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) welcomed the approval of House Bill 8505, citing the impact of the measure in the development of the economic zones managed by the state-run firm, and in beefing up the state coffers to support the military’s pension fund.
Approved on third and final reading last August 22, House Bill 8505 is a consolidated substitute bill of Pampanga Representatives Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales that seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
The bill ensures the continuity of the BCDA’s function as a builder of great cities and a prime mover of national development, while also helping the state-run firm conquer legislative hurdles that could restrict the full development of its properties—from Fort Bonifacio in Metro Manila to Poro Point in La Union.
“Our economic landscape is evolving at a tremendous pace, thus the need for BCDA to take big, bold moves to adapt with these changes and deliver the socioeconomic transformation we envision for our development areas in Clark. This bill will aptly address these gaps in our current charter and we couldn’t be more happy to express our gratitude to our friends in the House of Representatives for passing this bill on third and final reading,” said BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Engr. Joshua M. Bingcang.
Under the proposed bill, the BCDA’s corporate term will be extended for another 50 years from its current remaining corporate life of 19 years. This extension will increase the confidence of investors when transacting with BCDA, as well as allow BCDA to continue its support to the AFP Modernization Program.
The bill will also increase the authorized capital of the BCDA to Php400 billion from Php100 billion.
Lastly, the bill seeks to convert five percent of BCDA’s economic zones to freehold status from leasehold, authorizing the BCDA to sell these properties for residential purposes.
At present, lands within BCDA economic zones are only available on leasehold, preventing the entry of affordable housing developers. Converting portions of the ecozones to freehold will liberalize the residential market for an average Filipino and allow full ownership of the property.
“Once this is implemented, workers within our economic zones will be able to have their own homes, be closer to their jobs and live comfortably with their families,” PCEO Bingcang said.
The BCDA estimates that this provision will free up 1,856 hectares of land, which can potentially generate Php451.26 billion up to Php1.45 trillion in revenues. This revenue may be earmarked for the military pension fund, a priority of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
“The amendments we seek will not only extend the life of BCDA, but allow us to further unlock the potential of our ecozones. These will give BCDA the powers to accomplish more for the government and the people, particularly in real estate, infrastructure, and sustainable development,” PCEO Bingcang said.
“The House approval provides us one less hurdle to overcome, and we hope the Senate will also support our proposed bill as this will translate to better lives for the Filipino people,” he added.