By Floro Mercene
There is no argument that Metro Manila has outgrown itself and it’s time to move on to help decongest its ports, airports and road system.
The idea of moving northward to Clark and Subic is nothing new, having been earlier executed by former President Fidel V. Ramos. During his watch, he inaugurated the Expo Filipino, the 60-hectare heritage and entertainment Park in Clark Freeport Zone.
Ramos wanted Clark to be the future hub of economic and industrial activities that would spread outward towards Subic, Tarlac and Pangasinan up to Baguio.
Today, Chairman Martin Dino of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, is reviving the idea but with a more ambitious plan.
He is proposing a multi-modal 100-km coastal highway from Subic Bay to the Port of Manila that would help ease traffic in the metropolis.
He wants a P100-billion elevated expressway-railway, one of five cluster proposals on infrastructure building that he unveiled recently.
Since studies have shown that the country is losing an estimated P3-billion a day from the traffic mess, the cost of Dino’s project “is the equivalent of 34 days of cumulative business losses resulting from Manila’s traffic congestion.”
Dino said he has the support of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. Now he would ask for Malacañang’s approval to have his projects included for financing under the Philippine-China Framework of Cooperation.
With Subic and Clark readily accessible by rail or vehicles, it would relieve congestion at the Port of Manila’s two container terminals and speed up the movement to serve its 20 million consumers.
“And it would finally help decongest the Metropolis,” Dino said.
By then, he hopes Subic and Clark “to become the new centers of manufacturing, industry, finance and high technology.”
“Compared to other cities, the Subic-Clark corridor ‘is the viable place that has a sustainable future’ and its expansion is the key’ that would trigger an inflow of investments,” he added.
He said the inauguration of Philippine-China economic partnership would ramp-up government spending on infrastructure.
The new highway linking Subic and Manila dovetails with the Freeport’s planned expansion of Container Terminals 3 and 4 by over 30 hectares.
(To be continued)