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Monday, September 20, 2021

Pecson: Clark airport needs railways

MAGALANG -- Mayor Romulo Pecson said the national government should prioritize the construction of a railway system, which will connect Clark International Airport (CRK) to Metro Manila and various points in Northern and Central Luzon.

Pecson issued the statement after the Partido Abe Kapampangan, a local political party in nearby Angeles City, presented a four-point agenda including the connection of Manila and Clark with the construction of a fast and efficient railway system.

Developed countries use railways as primary means of transporting people and goods, according to the mayor.

"If we have an efficient railway system which will connect Clark to other parts of Central and Northern Luzon and Metro Manila it will spur economic development in this part of the country," Pecson said.

The full utilization of Clark airport as an international airport will result to more investors and tourists coming in Pampanga and this agricultural town will also benefit from this development, said Pecson.

He added that there are some eco-tourism areas within the municipality including the Banal a Bunduk (Holy Mountain), Abe’s Farm, natural springs, waterfalls, and others.

Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero have filed a Senate resolution pushing for actions to address the immediate development of Clark airport.

Senate Resolution No. 1728 is entitled "resolution expressing support to the development of Clark International Airport in Pampanga under a four-pronged approach and urging in the process the appropriate committees of the Senate to look into the matter with the end in view of enacting legislative measures to address the same."

Poe, a presidential candidate; and Escudero, her running mate in the vice presidential race, stated that Clark airport is the most effective and efficient means to address the problem of air traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Alex Cauguiran, former executive vice president of Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) and head of the Partido Abe Kapampangan, presented to Poe and Escudero the group’s position paper for the development of Clark airport and decongestion of Metro Manila and NAIA.

Cauguiran, who is also one of the convener of Move Clark Now advocacy group, said the first point is the legislation of Manila-Clark Dual Airport System as priority national policy.

The national leadership, including the President, should direct the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to establish and implement an Air Traffic Distribution Policy for NAIA and Clark airport, he said.

To promote land connectivity between Manila and Clark, the construction and completion of a fast and efficient railway system shall be prioritized for completion within five years after the start of the new administration, said Cauguiran.

The second agenda is the legislation of moratorium in the collection of travel tax in all airports in the country except NAIA, Caguiran said.

The third measure is to legislate exemption of Philippine carriers flying domestic routes in all airports except Manila from payment of excise and value added taxes on their aviation fuel.

The group also urged the national leadership to direct the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies to ensure that pre-employment procedures and services required of Overseas Filipino Workers are available near Clark airport, preferably under a One-Stop Government Center.

"We believe that NAIA is in a situation worse than Edsa. Delays in flights due to congestion of air traffic resulting to untold opportunity losses, is already regular occurrence. There is no option at hand other than opening a new international airport which would take decades and tens of billions of pesos to complete," Cauguiran stated.

Clark airport is waiting to be utilized, he said.

The interest of the Partido Abe Kapampangan on the issue lies on the expected boost the airport can bring to the local and national economy, which may result in more jobs and business opportunities for the Filipinos, he added.

Cauguiran stressed that the local political party will support [national leaders and candidates] who see the wisdom of their position regarding the development and utilization of Clark airport.

At certain hours, NAIA services 46 to 48 aircraft movements per hour. It posted a traffic volume of 32,865,000 passengers in 2013 and 34,015, 169 in 2014.

Clark airport on the other hand recorded 1,200,592 passengers and only 877,757 in 2014, Cauguiran said.

CRK’s runway capacity may easily be increased with the installation of additional aircraft stands and parking bays, he added.

Aside from these, Clark airport also have enough area where another runway that allow simultaneous take-off and landing of aircraft, Caugurian said.

Executive Orders 28 and 29, signed by President Aquino in 2011, encourage more liberal access to secondary international airports like Clark, Iloilo, and Mactan-Cebu, he added.

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