So said senatorial aspirant Rafael M. Alunan III, tourism secretary in the Cory Aquino administration and interior and local government chief in the Fidel Ramos administration.
Alunan was here Saturday as VIP guest at the Giant Lantern Festival.
“But to maximize the potential of the Clark airport as international gateway, it has to be privatized,” he hastened to add, noting the “dearth” in flights there under the current set-up. The Clark International Airport is managed by the Clark International Airport Corp. which is under the aegis of the Department of Transportation and Communication.
“Clark’s significance in the scheme of national development had been all too obvious, even at the time of the Pinatubo eruptions,” Alunan said during an impromptu press conference at the Heroes Hall. “This found affirmation with FVR declaring Clark as future premier international gateway in 1994.”
He lamented though that “succeeding administrations fell short of following through, notwithstanding the groundwork already laid out.”
Alunan was referring to the massive infrastructure development activities at the Clark Freeport complementing the airport’s “world-class facilities, notably its parallel 3-km-plus runways.”
“Ran as a private enterprise, a fully operational Clark airport will definitely relieve Metro Manila of congestion and its concomitant stress inflicted upon the residents,” Alunan said.
Alunan noted though that other than Clark as “truly” premier gateway, there is more to decongesting the metropolis.
“For one, agriculture has to be made sexy again,” he said metaphorically, “that is, revive its attraction as a highly viable industry in the countryside to reverse the Manila- centric mindset in the provinces,” he said. “The establishment of agricultural hubs throughout the country will not only check urban migration but can even assure food security all over.”
I n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n should farm out of Metro Manila into the provinces, Alunan said. “The consequent employment generation will make the workers stay close to their homes, and will find no need to go far just to find some jobs. Why, this can even put an end to the Filipino diaspora to the Middle East.”
A Kapampangan on his mother’s side – Moreno family from Magalang – Alunan is running for senator under the Bagumbayan Party with former Sen. Richard J. Gordon.
He was an instant celebrity to guests at the Giant Lantern Festival who had a field day with selfies and photo opportunities with him and open support of his candidacy.
Alunan has not affiliated himself with any of the presidential candidates as of this writing.