San Miguel urges Marcos to reconsider veto of Bulacan airport ecozone

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
San Miguel urges Marcos to reconsider veto of Bulacan airport ecozone
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr takes his oath as the 17th president of the Philippines at The National Museum of Fine Arts on June 30, 2022.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Corp. urged the Marcos Jr. administration on Monday to reconsider the veto of a bill creating the Bulacan Airport Economic Zone, citing estimated revenues from potential foreign investments.

In a statement on Monday, Ramon Ang, company chief executive, made the case for the economic boon if an economic zone would be established in the company’s Bulacan airport project.

San Miguel is spending P740-billion to build the New Manila International Airport. However, the project caught the ire of environmentalists and civil society groups for building on reclaimed land and missing mangroves, among others.

“We respect and abide by the government's decision. We thank him for recognizing where the proposed Freeport bill can be further improved, and we look forward to working with his administration towards perfecting this,” said Ang.

Malacanang vetoed the House Bill 7575 last Friday, which rounded out the list of moves pursued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his first week in office.

As Ang sees it, the benefits that the Philippine government will reap from the ecozone in Bulacan could prove plentiful, such as revenues could rake in $200 billion from export hubs birthed in the area. Ang expressed keen interest that if issues raised by Marcos were addressed, the ecozone still had a chance of seeing the light of day.

But for Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch PH, an infrastructure think tank, the veto was a “correct” move since the airport project already received outsized incentives, which included a tax exemption during a 10-year construction period.

“The veto sets the stage towards leveling the playing field for private investments in the public sector, as it indicates that there should be no sacred cows in the treatment of large businesses dealing with government,” Ridon said.

“Further, this affords government other alternatives in pursuing similar flagship projects but will not disadvantage the public, such as those which will not disrupt government revenue or those which will not impose unreasonable end-user fees,” he added.

“The important point of this veto is this: at the core of private investments in the public sector should always be the public interest,” he continued.




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