SENATOR Richard J. Gordon is pushing for the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport before the year ends.

In a statement sent to Sun.Star Pampanga Friday, July 13, the senator called “for a deep sense of urgency to reopen Subic Bay International Airport to finally fulfill the full conversion of the former US bases in Central Luzon for the benefit of the country.”

Gordon, who envisioned and led the successful conversion of the former US bases in Subic and Clark as freeports, wants to fast track the reopening of Subic International Airport.

He led the rehabilitation of Subic airport for heavy laden aircraft and made it the Asia One hub of Federal Express (Fedex) in 1995. Because of that, Gordon got UPS to follow Fedex in Clark and DHL in Manila immediately thereafter.

Unfortunately, Gordon noted, all the international overnight air cargo operators left the Philippines for a hub in China. Subic also then maintained regular international passenger flights in Asia.

"We cannot lose our second chance of decongesting Metro Manila and getting more investments in Central and Northern Luzon to get jobs and a greater tax base for our country and people. We must operate the airports there aggressively. We have three airports and three seaports between Manila and Central Luzon and we have heavily invested in road connectivity throughout Central and Northern Luzon such as North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarla Expressway and the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo Road). Soon we will have the cargo railway between Clark and Subic, not to mention Clark and Manila," he said.

Gordon and Central Luzon congressmen have concluded hearings for the Regional Investment Central Luzon Hub (RICH) which will coordinate investment promotion and maximize the lands, infrastructure, and free ports, Tiezas and Pezas with the local government units and create jobs, new housing, schools, transportation, communications, and energy activities.

"With flights often delayed because of the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I have long been calling for the reopening of Subic Bay International Airport so that it, along with Clark International Airport, could be used to create more flights for the Philippines and avoid delays," he said.

Gordon lauded Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who disclosed last week that the Subic Bay International Airport could return to operation in the second quarter of 2019 under a revival program.

To bring back the operation of Subic Bay International Airport, which used to be the one of the country’s best airports, Gordon, with Senator Loren Legarda, got funding for its rehabilitation. (JTD)