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Monday, September 16, 2019

Tulabut: Clark redux

IT IS one subject I am always tempted to write about – Clark.

With this column article, it is obvious that I have yielded once again to the temptation. But not without good reasons. Just like that fruit, Clark is just so enticing. So beckoning.

First off is a House Resolution that calls for a probe on the continued stay of Philippine Air Force inside Clark filed by Rep. Noel Villanueva of the third district of Tarlac in October last year.

Surfing the internet, I stumbled upon a document Titled : “A Resolution directing the Special Committee on Bases Conversion to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the continuous stay of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) within Clark (Special Economic Zone) in violation of RA 7227 as amended by RA 9400 otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act”

As may be gleaned from the title itself, this is a call for Congressional inquiry. It is not a mere call for review nor a revisit of the existing contract on the use of very prime lands inside Clark. Thus, this move is a rather surprising, if not bold (read; courageous) move by the good Congressman from Concepcion.

From what I understand is that there is an existing MOA between DND and the BCDA for the use by PAF of about 320 hectares inside Clark. That MOA has no expiration but calls only for a review of the accord every five years.

Clark Freeport (also known as Main Zone or the former Clark Air Base proper) is almost saturated. Meaning, there is very few hectares of lands left to lease out to foreign and local investors. This move may free up additional lands that will bring in investors and thus create more jobs and livelihood opportunities. Mind you, these are prime lots.

On the one hand, relocating PAF contingents inside Clark would be a gargantuan task as it would involve not just political will but huge funding from the government.

Clark’s stakeholders are all upbeat and excited with appointment of Jose “Ping” De Jesus as chairman of the board of directors of Clark Development Corporation.

The former secretary of Public Works and Highways (President Cory’s time) and of Transportation and Communications (for a year under PNOY’s) is an illustrious son of Pampanga.

Tatang Ping or Chairman De Jesus brings with him to Clark vast wisdom in governance and policy making experience, owing to his numerous positions in government and private sector.

Clark observers also see a synergistic relationship now between CDC and BCDA who is also headed by a Cabalen in Vivencio “Vince” Dizon from Porac town.

I have heard the presentations of the youthful BCDA top honcho and believe you me he is brimming with bright ideas that could propel Clark (and even Pampanga and Tarlac as hosts to the Freeport) to greater progress. He exudes total dynamism that could transcend to unprecedented achievements for the bases conversion body.

Vince is one of the brains behind the much vaunted Build Build Build mantra of the Duterte Administration. He is totally backing the full utilization and development of Clark International Airport. And he is putting money where his mouth is literally as he has approved the allocation of more funds for airport development.

Tatang Ping and Pres. Vince complete such a formidable cast of Cabalens in Clark. Appointed previously were Noel Manankil and Alex Cauguiran to lead CDC and CIA, respectively. The latter two are the mainstay and dynamic duo in Clark with one being good at drawing the numbers for outstanding financial while the other one is a no non-sense leader whose political savvy can easily convince airline operators to come to Clark.

All combined, they form a quartet. They may not sing as good as the Beatles but they can render harmonious tunes. They may never be likened also to gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but individually and collectively they could bring about the good news.
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