PAMPANGA

Sangil: Clark Freeport, what now?

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MAYBE, it doesn't matter to SM Prime Holdings if more than P10 billion in revenues, a 46 percent of their first semester income, was lost because the Sy family is the richest in the country. But P10 billion is ten billion pesos. That's a huge amount even for billionaires. Even if they are rich, it will hurt their pockets. That big amount was debited lost because the Sy's company waived the rental fees in their malls. What about the rental fees among locators in Clark Freeport, and this will include companies within areas of Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC)? Are the monthly lease payments of locators be condoned? In five straight months, a good 90 percent of their income the loss locators suffered. Others closed shops.

Earlier, what was only promised by Clark Development Corporation (CDC) was there will be a waiver of the penalties on the lease payments and back rentals can be paid in easy installments. Case in point: My son's restaurant and of my friend TJ Rodriguez closed their establishments because as early as March, when the country was under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Clark became virtually a garrison. All exits were manned and going in out was so difficult for anyone trying to gain access. That persisted till May and was relaxed only in June and July. The restaurants and many other businesses in the Freeport were adversely affected. My son closed his restaurant because nobody is dining, and in few lucky instances, there were two tables served. Meanwhile, he was paying for the restaurant's staff, power, water and other bills. If it will include the rentals, that will mean the last nail in the coffin, so to speak. He wasn't continue under that circumstances. And who would?

Success depends upon the reliability and responsiveness of the people who were given the task. Consistency and meaningful response to presented challenges will lead to success. I am talking here about the success of Clark Development Corporation, an agency of government created by law as an answer to the destruction brought about by the eruption of the nearby Mt. Pinatubo. Retro. Double whammy. The former US military installation was blanketed in ash and was in disarray when the American troops who were settled in the area since 1900 hurriedly left. But those who took charge rolled their sleeves and faced the challenges and came successful.

In all these developments, who comes to mind? It is no other than the current president, Noel Manankil and the members of the board. They just can't pass the blame to this fortuitous event, or toss the problem to other agencies of the national government. Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake here. Investments made will be forever lost. Reprieve, stimulus packages, condonation and whatever means should now be carefully studied. How the men and women of CDC will navigate to safety this Freeport to what it was before the pandemic is in their hands.

Manankil is very intelligent. Very diligent. Very precise on his figures. Very graphic on his presentations the first time he made a financial report when I was a part of the part of year 2000. He was so impressive. So it came not much a surprise that he was appointed by President Duterte to head now Clark Freeport. Manankil was a commerce graduate of De La Salle University. Passed the board in 1991. For a time worked at SGV. Joined CDC in 1996 and climbed the ladder of leadership steadily. He said then there are more things to be done for the Freeport and he vowed success.


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