YEARENDER 2014: Not much good news in Pampanga

Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - December 22, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Pampanga is bidding 2014 goodbye with few pieces of good news.

With less than two years left in the Aquino administration, only the promise of a P1.2-billion low-cost carrier passenger terminal seems to keep the hopes of Kapampangans and Central Luzon folk alive that the Clark International Airport (CIA) will become the center of economic development in the region.

For months, local newspapers carried stories about Manila-born Defin Lee, president of Globe Asiatique, who was arrested over an alleged P6.6-billion anomaly involving two housing projects in Mabalacat and Bacolor town.

It was also during this year when lawmen recovered a huge bulk of shabu estimated to be worth P7 million from a suspected shabu laboratory  and a warehouse in San Fernando City.

The CIA promise

It was a government promise contained in Executive Order No. 174 signed by former President Fidel Ramos in 1994.

Clark, the EO said, was to be the country’s premiere international gateway.

But even under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a Kapampangan herself, airport officials struggled toward realizing the EO 174.

Individuals involved in this struggle knew that some Metro Manila-based businessmen were not interested in the idea.

Kapampangans believe the measure will help the country gain the confidence of more airlines to operate in Clark.

Recently, newly installed Clark International Airport Corp. president and chief executive officer Emigdio Tanjuatco urged the national government to declare CIA as a premiere gateway under a dual airport system.

“This will convince airline companies to establish regular flights in Clark,” Tanjuatco said citing Japan, which has four international airports.

Tanjuatco said an executive order from President Aquino would be fine, but a “strong statement” from the Department of Transportation and Communications would do.

Clark is said to have its own “catchment” area for potential passengers from the four regions north of Metro Manila. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport can serve passengers from the regions south of the metropolis.

“We are targeting some three million people so we are pursuing plans to have a P1.2 billion low-cost carrier terminal completed in Clark soonest,” Tanjuatco said.

The P1.2 billion is included in the General Appropriations Act of 2015 amid targets to have the new terminal completed, if not operational before Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

Tanjuatco said the new terminal would increase the Clark airport’s capacity to as much as eight million passengers annually.

The Delfin Lee saga

Lee, president of Globe Asiatique, dared Vice President Jejomar Binay to a debate in the Senate, saying “for us to let out the truth and find out who is lying.” 

He expressed belief Binay orchestrated the cases against him.

“You are using me in politics to boost your popularity,” he said referring to Binay.

Lee posted on his Facebook account that he had been dealing with the Pag-IBIG Fund for 20 years without bad record or debt.

“But when you assumed post, I suddenly became a scam artist in less than a month. The fact is that Globe Asiatique had even been a top performer. Your agency had used my projects as models to lure buyers and borrowers,” he added.

His challenge fell on deaf ears. A San Fernando City judge barred him from attending a Senate hearing on the cases filed against him.

Drugs, cops, crimes

In September, criminal charges were filed against four Chinese men who were arrested in separate raids on a drug laboratory and a storage facility in the villages of San Jose and Sindalan in San Fernando City.

The raids resulted in the recovery of 1,000 kilos of shabu estimated to have a street value of P7 billion and drug paraphernalia.

Charged before the Department of Justice were Neri Tan, Willy Yap, Jason Lee, and Ying Ying Huang alias Sophie Lee.

In July, authorities busted a criminal group allegedly headed by a rookie police officer, who was arrested along with four others, for breaking into a house of a Briton in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Porac town.

The gang leader was identified as Police Officer 1 John Paul Tanglao, 25, of the Regional Public Safety Battalion 3 based in Porac.

Senior Superintendent Marlon Madrid, officer-in-charge of the provincial police office, said Tanglao, armed with M16 rifle and wearing a police uniform, and his companions robbed the house of Nigel Martin Witty and accused the victim of running a cybersex den.

Tanglao and his companions were arrested by members of the provincial and city police as they were fleeing from the crime scene. – With Ric Sapnu

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