CLARK FREEPORT – Instead of practically begging for more flights at the Clark airport, Pampanga 1st District Rep. Joseller Guiao would do much better if he pushed harder for the conversion of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) into an authority.
So the Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement urged Guiao in the wake of reports rising out of last week’s hearing here of the technical working group of the House committee on transportation which he presided. Guiao asked the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to grant the Clark International Airport (CIA) landing rights and at the same time influence airlines to transfer some of their flights here.
“If only the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications), CAB and CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) can influence the airlines, the government can help out CIAC to have additional flights here,” said Guiao.But the PGKM observed that “the CIA is not exactly wanting in landing rights as in the utilization of those rights.”
It can be recalled, the PGKM said, that during the “long incumbency of (Victor Jose) Luciano at the CIAC, landing rights acquired through air talks with different countries were proclaimed as major accomplishments.” “The problem is in the translation of those rights to actual flights,” the PGKM added. “As well as in keeping those flights at Clark fromleaving.”
The PGKM citing as examples AirAsia Phil, Emirates and Tiger Airways Philippines that have all moved out of Clark after initially hubbing here. During Guiao’s committee hearing, CAB representative Atty. Wyrlou Samodio disclosed that Clark had the second biggest number of entitlements in terms of flights and seats, after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Samodio hastened though that in the utilisation of traffic rights, more airlines tapped the Mactan-Cebu International Airport than the CIA.
To the PGKM, Clark “as it is,” meaning, managed by the CIAC which is under the control of the Department of Transportation and Communications, “can never reach its full potentials to be premier international gateway.”
“What Clark needs is greater autonomy tocarve its own future,” said PGKM Chairman Ruperto Cruz, even as he reminded Guiao of his proposal – “right on Day One of his term as congressman” – to convert the CIAC into and authority.
Reports showed that Guiao’s proposed measure converting the CIAC into an authority and naming it and the airport after the late President Corazon Aquino embodied as House Bill No. 321 was approved by the joint ommittees on transportation, and on government enterprises and privatization on Feb. 19 this year.
HB 321 sought to convert the CIAC into the Corazon C. Aquino International Airport Authority because the CIAC was “hampered by inadequate powers and functions to operate and manage the Clark Civil Aviation Complex and the Clark International Airport.”
In the explanatory notes, Guiao said there was a need to establish a “more stable and streamlined authority with expanded capabilities” as Clark was “envisioned to be the Philippines’ next premier international airport” amid the congestion at the NAIA. Guiao was quoted in a subsequent news reports as saying: “A technical working group has been formed to fine-tune the bill.”
“It has been 10 months since, so what happened to that bill?” Cruz asked, even as he expressed apprehension that it could have been “unceremoniously archived for keeps.”
“We know, as much as the Imperial Dragons of Manila that freed from the chains of the DOTC and (Secretary Joseph Emilio) Abaya’s Cavite-centered interests, a Clark airport managed by an authority of its own can shift the epicenter of the aviation game in the country,” Cruz said.
“Hence, it is not farfetched to think of Manila vested interest groups to be sabotaging again this move toward that direction,” he added. “We hope that Guiao‘s cause for a Clark authority has not been, and will not be, compromised by any interest, political or otherwise.” Guiao is a member of the Liberal Party with Abaya as president.