P7.2-billion Clark airport terminal funding now awaits NEDA approval

By Ashley Manabat, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jul 30 2013 07:19 AM | Updated as of Jul 30 2013 03:19 PM

CLARK FREEPORT - Some P7.2 billion now awaits the approval of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) earmarked for the expansion of the Clark airport terminal to handle 15 million to 20 million passengers annually before the term of President Aquino expires in 2016.

This was revealed by neophyte Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao of the first district of Pampanga at the Balitaan forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. at the Bale Balita here on Friday.

Guiao said as soon as he got wind of the proposed Clark terminal funding, he searched for it in the budget but failed to locate it. He said he immediately called up Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President and Chief Executive Officer Victor Jose “Chichos” Luciano and told him the money is yet to secure budgetary allocation.

During the course of the Balitaan forum, however, Guiao was interrupted by a call from Luciano who told him that the funding is in the unprogrammed budget of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Maka prioritize ya kanu yng terminal [The terminal is being prioritized]. The only reason it is not included in the budget is because the Neda has not yet approve it. So the Department of Transportation and Communications [DOTC] placed the initial P3.6 billion to the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] so that when the Neda approval is out, it can be pulled out from the DBM,” Guiao said.

“It [terminal] has been prioritized by the DOTC. That was Luciano’s explanation so that it can be started in 2014,” Guiao added.

He said this will be done “before P-Noy leaves office. Payari ne pu ita. ’Yang peka legacy na [He (President Aquino) will have it done. That will be his legacy],” Guiao said.

The fund will be divided into two P3.6- billion tranches to be given starting this year.

In the meantime, Guiao said some P270 million is earmarked for the upgrade of CIAC equipment.

In a related development, Guiao said the Central Luzon bloc led by Capampangan congressmen plan to champion the cause of Clark by calling for a Clark summit sometime in October.

He said it is important to “have a concrete effect on Clark.” Guiao added that, “It’s high time to have a Clark summit [by October] with all its stakeholders, locators, investors, Clark Development Corp., local government units, as well as chamber of commerce and industries involved.”

He said his staff are now preparing and studying documents on Clark’s mission and aspirations to be presented to concerned agencies and officials.

Guiao said the Clark summit will involve the whole gamut, including Clark as a sports, leisure and medical tourism haven.

The summit will come out with the creation of a technical working group to promote Clark, among others, he said.

The proposed bill for the creation of a new metropolis and Clark as the most logical choice even if it will not materialize will create and draw attention to our cause, he said.

Another proposal is to file a resolution urging the national government to bring back the North Rail Project that was deferred because of contract problem and squatters issues.

“So much effort and money have already been spent. It’s only right to restudy the North Rail project,” he said.

Guaio also said business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan has modified his proposal for a fast train from Manila to Clark.

Initially, Pangilinan’s proposal is limited to passengers on a fast train. But now, Guiao said, the business magnate’s proposal also includes a regular commuter train alongside the fast train which can ferry cargo and goods.