SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) reaffirmed on Wednesday their partnership as global gateways to boost development in the Central Luzon region and to propel national economic growth.
Speaking during the CIAC 2017 Roadshow here, SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma and CIAC President and CEO Alex Cauguiran expressed their continuing commitment to work hand-in-hand towards regional growth and outlined their vision for a more effective partnership.
“President Duterte has always emphasized that he wants to connect Clark and Subic free ports in order to turn Central Luzon into a major logistics hub,” Eisma said in a message read by SBMA Chief Marketing Executive Ronnie Yambao. “And this is how it really should be.”
“As world-class gateways, Clark International Airport and the Port of Subic can and should serve as the twin turbo-engine of growth for Central Luzon, a super duo – if I may call it – that can help alleviate urban blights like vehicular traffic and port congestion in Metro Manila,” Eisma added.
Eisma also pointed out that by coordinating the operations of Clark airport and Subic seaport, CIAC and the SBMA can serve the needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMs), as well as large manufacturing industries in the region; spur growth in tourism and the MSMEs and big industries through the efficient movement of people, goods, and services to and from Central Luzon and other parts of the country; and create more employment and livelihood opportunities in the region.
“So as you can probably surmise, our only option is to work effectively, efficiently, and harmoniously together if we are to support and fulfill the President’s agenda for Subic and Clark,” Eisma added.
For his part, Cauguiran emphasized the need for a common development platform between Clark and Subic, as well as the nearby communities, so that they may fulfill their roles in the national development agenda.
“We are promoting not only Clark, but also Subic Bay and the provinces of Bataan and Zambales,” Cauguiran said, adding that this is in line with the vision of President Duterte to decentralize development and disperse growth to different regions in the country.
Cauguiran, who served as member of the Philippine panel that negotiated air service agreement with other countries in the world, said that as early as six years ago, he was already batting to maximize the use of the airports in Clark and Subic because the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila was already overloaded.
“I said that we should open other airports,” Cauguiran recalled saying. “We should make (the Clark and Subic) airports night-rated, give them entitlement, develop their terminal, and develop their runway.”
“And I believe that the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) has entitlement to develop and fully utilize its airport because I always make sure that what will be put in the proposal will include not only Clark but Subic and other airports outside NAIA,” he added.
The Subic Bay Freeport and the Clark Freeport are now considered the prime catalysts of economic progress in Central Luzon and the biggest generators of livelihood opportunities for residents of communities devastated by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 and the subsequent withdrawal of US military forces the following year from the former Subic Naval Base and Clark Airforce Base.
Because of this, Eisma likewise stressed that Subic and Clark “are not competitors, but members of the same national team.”
“As separate entities, we are no doubt expected to accomplish a lot, but together we are also expected to do much, much more,” the SBMA official said. (Dante M. Salvana)