Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and I are in the same age bracket.I have to confess I am little bit older than him but he admired my young looks. Wow, yabang no? Since he assumed leadership as chairman of the the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) he has to make travels to Clark Freeport so inevitably we meet now and then. We easily made friends because we have so many things in common. He spent part of his childhood in Cotobato when the governor was Datu Utog Matalam and the congressman of the lone district of Cotobato was Salipada K. Pendatun. Oh, wow that’s so many years ago. He told me he peddled the newspaper Mindanao Cross, a tabloid published by the fathers in that city. And at the same in those years I was in Cotobato and stayed at the house of broadcaster Fred Babao in Rosary Heights and for a short while I was news director of DXMS. I was also page editor of the Mindanao News Tribune Cotobato section.

Fast forward. We are now both in the sunset years yet both of us don’t think of retirement. More kilometers to walk. I talked about some people in the BCDA where, by the way, I was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2019 as a member of the board. I served for five years and resigned to run for public office in 2013. I am delighted in talking with Del Lorenzana because we are in the same frequency. Like for example his efforts to move and find a new station for the Philippine Air Force unit based in Clark Freeport. It’s about time.

I remember how we in Clark Development Corporation (CDC) then headed by Chairman Rizalino ‘Roy’ Navarro formed a group to discuss with the defense department and the military of plans in relocating them to Basa Air Base. The objective is to build a second runway for expansion of the Clark International Airport. Our team headed by then Director Vic Yap didn’t have much success because in the middle of negotiations the defense panel is sending new teams as their bosses were either transferred elsewhere or were retired. Now the news dispatched by Inquirer reporter Tonette Orejas said the relocation is now being tackled in the BCDA board and with Lorenzana and President Aileen Zosa at the helm and with time in their hands success is at hand.

A third runway is a must at Clark International Airport as more flights are co each year. As a matter of fact, experts on aviation and financial gurus are one in saying that the best option for the Philippines to build its international gateway is in the aviation complex of Clark Freeport, and that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) should be downgraded as a secondary airport since its 3.2 kilometer single runway can no longer accomodate the larger aircrafts. And the runway has no more room for expansion. The terminals are too congested,causing so much incovenience to airline passengers. The Clark aviation complex has more than 2400 hectares with two 3.5 kilometer parallel runways with more room for expansion. And add a third runway, that’s an upgrade.

There were several efforts in the past since it was reopened in 1993 for the Clark airport to be either the main gateway or utilized as a secondary airport since Ninoy Aquino International Airport was already beyond its capacity. There was then the marching order of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to fast track the upgrade. The last proponent to propose the build the gateway was the Al Kharafi group of Kuwait in 2008 and took the CIAC board more than two years in discussing and evaluating the proposal only to be overtaken by the assumption into office of President Noynoy Aquino without closure. The late president didn’t even give a second look.