Creation of Metro Clark Development Authority a necessity

IT HAS been the policy of the State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable the local governments to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals.

Hence, it is deemed necessary for the creation of the Metro Clark Development Authority (MCDA) to integrate and coordinate the delivery of certain basic services and enforcement of laws, rules and regulations between and among the provinces, cities and municipalities adjacent to the former US military facility.

The Metro Clark area in Pampanga covers the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat and the town of Porac while parts of the area in Tarlac include the towns of Capas and Bamban.

The MCDA, to be empowered with similar functions of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), will perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in the process exercises regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within the Metro Clark area without diminution of the autonomy of the LGUs concerning purely local matters.

The MCDA will be under the auspices of the Office of the President to which the implementing arm will be the Metro Clark Development Council (MCAC). The MCAC will be the governing board and policy making body of the MCDA. It will be composed of the governors of Pampanga and Tarlac, the mayors of Angeles City, Mabalacat City, Porac, Bamban and Capas. The regional heads of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) , Department of Education (Deped), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Bureau of Customs, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Committee (HUDCC), Philippine National Police (PNP), Office of Civil Defense, TESDA, other national government agencies, accredited people’s organizations, NGOs and the private sector, attend meetings of the council but as non-voting members.

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Pogi Lazatin Jr. signified support so long it is beneficial and contributory to local and national development. He said Metro Clark has the characteristics of the ideal investment, hospitality and leisure hub. It has vast developable land, a large pool of talent, and expandable land and air infrastructures.

Amid the pandemic, more capital investments are flowing to Angeles City spurring the growth of Central Luzon. Lazatin’s Chief Adviser and Tactician and concurrent CIAC VP for Operations IC Calaguas and Mayor’s Executive Assistant IV Reina Manuel said the foreseeable rapid economic boomfor Angeles City and Metro Clark as catalysts are happening fast and intense capable of providing connectivity and accessibility to other points of the region.

Further, the MCAC approves metro-wide plans, programs and projects and issues rules, regulations and resolutions deemed necessary by the MCDA. It may increase the rate of the allowances and per diems of the members of the council to be effective during the term of the succeeding council. It fixes the compensation of the officers and personnel of the MCDA, and approves the annual budget thereof for submission to the DBM.

Some of MCDA’s powers and functions are focused on the formulation, coordination and regulation of the implementation of approved medium and long term plans and programs setting the policies concerning traffic, deputization of its personnel by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Hence, the metro Clark LGUs can issue tickets, citations, and collect fines and penalties for violations of traffic rules and regulations whether moving or non-moving in nature, and confiscate, suspend or revoke driver’s licenses in the enforcement of all traffic laws and regulations. Assistance to medium and long term development plans of the Metro Clark area, zoning and land use planning, housing and shelter services, health and sanitation, pollution control, public safety, peace and order, disaster mitigation and management are among the primary and basic services to be catered.

The MCDA shall be headed by an Administrator to be appointed by the President of the Philippines and chosen from a list of at least three nominees submitted by the MCAC.

The Administrator shall have a term of six years unless otherwise removed for cause in accordance with law. The amount necessary for the operating budget of the MCDA shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. It is likewise empowered to levy fines and impose fees and charges for various services rendered.

It may accept donations and grants from foreign and local governments or sources but subject to the prior clearance and approval by the President of the Philippines based on the recommendation approval of the DOF, DFA and the Central Bank. Meanwhile, according to retired US Navy Captain Dennis Wright, founding director of the US-Philippines Society, the U.S. Air Force abandoned the Clark Air Base in 1991.

It was America’s largest military installation outside the continental United States. It was an American quality built facility with dual-use runways and an incredible modern supporting infrastructure, just 80 kilometers from Metro Manila. Wright rated Clark’s progress as a rising business location outside Metro Manila in one word, “excellent”.

If one objectively looks at what constitutes a positive, attractive and conducive business environment, the Metro Clark area would consistently be ranked the number one location, not only in the Philippines, but in all of Asia, he added. Wright’s strong endorsement was based on location. First, Metro Manila is heavily congested. Second, Clark is unrivaled with respect to other off-Luzon island locations.

Rents in the Metro Clark area are about half those in Metro Manila. And third, the Clark International Airport, has the best infrastructure, and now with its new passenger terminal, is the heir apparent to NAIA.

Metro Clark is a major urban center, but why does that make it special or an economic hub? Wright explained that Metro Clark is anchored by the Philippines’ largest and best airport in the country, four times larger than Manila’s limited 640-hectare NAIA airport.

The Manila airport also is located within the center of a densely populated and congested area with no space for expansion. The Clark international airport on the other hand, is the legacy left behind by the U.S. Air Force.

The Philippines has literally transformed this asset into a modern freeport manufacturing hub, anchored by a first-class international airport and corresponding residential, commercial and industrial activities in what today has all the earmarks of a modern Aerotropolis.