CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The need to finally convert Clark Freeport into an “authority” gained momentum during the media forum with the Kambilan Party Speakers’ Bureau Wednesday at the Max’s Restaurant here.
Congressional candidate and Vice Gov. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao declared that his first order of business once elected into Congress is to file a bill that will convert Clark Freeport into an authority similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in Olongapo City, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) in Casambalangan, Santa Ana, Cagayan and the APECO in Casiguran, Aurora.
Guiao said Clark has seen three presidents since President Aquino came to power in 2010 – Felipe Remollo, Eduardo Oban and Arthur Tugade.
This creates instability, Guiao said, citing the need to convert Clark into an authority by an act of Congress.
He said chief executives of Clark should have a fixed term of office that should be defined by law to immunize them from politicking so that they can set their own pace in the development of the freeport.
The Clark Development Corp. (CDC), the administrator of the Clark Freeport Zone is a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) created in April 1993 by Executive Order 80 (EO 80) by then President Ramos as the implementing arm of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to manage the Clark Special Economic Zone.
Guiao said Clark should have its own charter and corporate identity in order to negotiate with governments and big businesses. The problem right now, he said, is Clark needs to pass through the BCDA and the Office of the President to plan its own course.
“Right now, we are already drafting a bill. A team of lawyers are formulating a bill that is an improved version of the CEZA and APECO laws,” he said.
When asked what he will do with the draft measure if he loses his congressional bid, Guiao gamely said, “I will give it to whoever wins.”
On March 13, 1992, Congress passed Republic Act 7227 known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, creating the Subic Bay Freeport in anticipation of the pull-out of the US naval base facilities.
Section 13 of RA 7227 created the SBMA and freeport incentives that was lobbied for by Richard Gordon and inserted as an amendment during the bicameral committee hearings.
The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, also known as Cagayan Freeport, was established by virtue of Republic Act No. 7922, otherwise known as the Cagayan Economic Zone Act of 1995.
It is being supervised and managed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, and recreational center, with a suitable residential area, in order to create employment opportunities around the Cagayan Freeport, and to effectively encourage and attract legitimate and productive local and foreign investments.
The freeport is actually located in Port Irene, Casambalangan, Santa Ana, Cagayan. It is approximately a 45-minute plane ride from Kaoshung, Taiwan’s largest industrial and shipping center.
The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport, also known as APECO, was established by virtue of Republic Act 9490, otherwise known as the Aurora Special Economic Zone Act of 2007.
It is being supervised and managed by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, and recreational center, with a suitable residential area, in order to create employment opportunities around Casiguran, and to effectively encourage and attract legitimate and productive local and foreign investments.
If finally enacted into law, Guiao said Clark Freeport could be renamed Cory Aquino Economic Authority because President Aquino’s late mother was very much instrumental in literally helping Clark rise from the ashes after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 which virtually turned it into a ghost town.