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DOTC seeks add’l P1.3B for Clark Airport upgrade

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines –  The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has recommended to Pres. Aquino the allocation of P1.3 billion for the upgrade of the Clark International Airport (CIA) here amid assurances the airport would be converted into one of the country’s premiere gateway.

In an exclusive interview, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano said the funding proposal is now pending in Malacañang after it was endorsed by Transportation Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Luciano said the P1.3 billion is on top of the P1 billion approved loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) which he described as “standby funds” for the further development of the CIA.

Luciano cited the fund allocations for the Clark airport is “clear indication that we are not playing second fiddle (to NAIA).”   He admitted plans of the government, however, to eventually close the already congested NAIA as soon as it has reached “saturation point”, and opt for yet another international airport “probably south of Manila.”

But Luciano also debunked reports that Sangley Point, also a former US military facility in Cavite, is being considered in lieu of Clark as alternative premiere international airport amid congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

“The plan is just to use Sangley only for general aviation involving small aircraft and that is why the Air Force’s strike force there is being moved to Lumbia in Cagayan de Oro,” he said.

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Central Luzon leaders have been batting for the full conversion of Clark into a premiere international airport since 1994, when then Pres. Ramos signed Executive Order 192 declaring the former US Air Force base as the “future site of the country’s premiere international gateway.”  The CIA boasts of 2,400 hectares of land and two parallel runways, each measuring 3.2 kilometers long.

Third district Rep. Oscar Rodriguez also vowed to help speed up the full development of Clark as NAIA’s “twin” premiere international airport.

“Yes, I can champion the cause, but I need your help,” he said, amid lobbying from the local consortium  All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp. (ARRC) with Solar Group as the lead local partner and having German firms also as partners, to develop Sangley Point into a premiere international gateway.

The proponents of Sangley have been citing the so-called “Cavite: Vision 2020,” contained in Executive Order 629 issued 2007, mandating  the conversion of Sangley into an international airport and seaport.

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