November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Clark is preferred airport project because of shorter timeline

AMID unsolicited proposals to establish new and modern airports in Bulacan and Sangley Point in Cavite, the government’s chief economic planner still views Clark International Airport as the “superior” option to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“I think the Clark seems to be superior in terms of location, and also it’s much more advanced in terms of development,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters last week when asked whether the unsolicited proposals will be the best alternative entry point of international flights.

He said that the government is prioritizing those projects that can be completed within the Duterte administration’s term.

“We want to focus on things that are finishable within three years or at least within the term of the President,” said Mr. Pernia.

The government is currently implementing the Clark International Airport’s P15.34 billion new terminal building, which is expected to be completed in 2020. The Clark airport will also be linked with the Philippine National Railway line running from Malolos to Clark Green City.

However Mr. Pernia said airport bids are not being ruled out, and will still be part of the investment pipeline under the National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Council (NEDA-ICC).

“That is what we need in the immediate and short term. So in other words the unsolicited proposals are on the back burner,” he said.

“The (unsolicited) airport projects are still not dead. We are looking at them, we’ll let them go through the process. They are going through the ICC board, then the ICC, and then we will make sure that there will be no conditions,” Mr. Pernia added.

There have been at least two unsolicited proposals to build a new airport near Metro Manila submitted to the current government. One is led by San Miguel Corp.’s Ramon S. Ang with a $14-billion airport in Bulacan, involving a 2,500-hectare property that can accommodate up to six runways.

The other was proposed by All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corp., the Tieng family’s team-up with the Sy family’s Belle Corp., for a $50-billion airport and economic zone at Sangley Point in Cavite.

The Bulacan airport feasibility study is complete, and is currently in the pipeline with the ICC technical board, while studies for the Sangley airport are awaiting submission, according to Mr. Pernia.

Still, the proposals -- which are considered public-private partnership projects and subject to Swiss challenge -- are likely to be completed by the next administration.

“They will take some time to build. The new Hong Kong airport took 10 years, I understand, to build. So that’s really going to be more of interest to the next admin rather this one. But in terms of processing, they have been submitted and we are looking into it,” said Mr. Pernia.

“They’re going to go through the usual process. There’s no special treatment,” he said. -- Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan