House panels approve creation of ecozone within Bulacan international airport

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2020 11:59 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2020 12:02 PM

Exterior design studies for San Miguel Corporation's proposed New Manila International Airport project in Bulakan, Bulacan. Handout

MANILA - The House Committees on Economic Affairs and Ways and Means on Wednesday approved a substitute bill creating the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport located within the proposed international airport complex.

Ways and Means chairman Rep. Joey Salceda said he opted to separate the two entities. 

Under the original bill proposed by Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, it included the granting of the franchise to build the international airport to San Miguel Corporation and the creation of an ecozone.

“There was originally a bill which included both ecozone, the airport city and the franchise, we better split it so it is very clear what is the role and what exactly will this do to the economy,” Salceda said.

“I asked the House leadership to separate the franchise bill and to remove any reference to the Gross Income Earned regime, which I am firmly opposed to. I also asked that the boundaries of the ecozone be made more definite, and that incentives for eligible enterprises be those incentives that are already in our standard tax incentives menu, under EO 226,” he added.

Committee on Economic Affairs chairperson Sharon Garin explained, a franchise is given to a certain private individual and not the area that it occupies.

“Any tax rates given to that franchisee is only for it,” she said adding that the ecozone will enforce a different tax scheme subject to ecozones and freeports.

“If it is owned by San Miguel, then it is governed by the franchise. If it is there and it is not owned by San Miguel, it is partaking of the area it is governed by the ecozone,” said Salceda.

San Miguel Corp. for its part said the construction of the airport covers 2,400 hectares and is extendable to 5,000 hectares.

The proposed airport plan is contained within an area covering 1,700 hectares.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on 2nd reading the granting of the separate franchise to SMC.

San Miguel Corp formally accepted the Notice of Award from the Department of Transportation for the Bulacan airport project in August 2019.

The proposed airport, meant to help decongest the country's main international gateway NAIA, will have 4 runways, expandable up to 6, with a capacity of 100 million passengers every year, San Miguel earlier said.