By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon urged on Wednesday the national government to fast-track the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) for the country to finally fulfill the full conversion of former US bases in Central Luzon.
Gordon, chairman of he Senate Blue ribbon committee and a former mayor of Olongapo city, had envisioned and led the successful conversion of the former US bases in Subic and Clark as Free Ports.
He recalled having led the rehabilitation of Subic airport for heavy laden aircraft and made it the Asia One hub of Federal Express (Fedex) in 1995.
Because of that Gordon got UPS to follow Fedex in Clark and DHL in Manila immediately thereafter.
‘’Unfortunately all these international overnight air cargo operators left the Philippines to hub in China. Subic also then maintained Regular international passenger flights in Asia,’’ he said.
“We cannot lose our second chance of decongesting Metro Manila and getting more investments in Central and Northern Luzon to get jobs and a greater tax base for our country and people. We must operate the airports there aggressively,’’ he pointed out.
‘’We have three airports and three seaports between Manila and Central Luzon and we have heavily invested in road connectivity throughout Central and Northern Luzon such as NLEX, SCTEX, and Olongapo- Gapan highways . Soon we will have the cargo railway between Clark and Subic, not to mention Clark and Manila,” he said.
Gordon and Central Luzon congressmen have concluded hearings for the REGIONAL INVESTMENT CENTRAL LUZON HUB (RICH) which will ‘’coordinate investment promotion and maximize, the lands, infrastructure, and free ports, Tiezas and Pezas with the LGUs and create jobs, new housing, schools, transportation, communications, energy activities.’’
“With flights often delayed because of the congestion at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport(, I have long been calling for the reopening of Subic Bay International Airport so that it, along with Clark International Airport, could be used to create more flights for the Philippines and avoid delays,” he said.
Gordon lauded Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who disclosed last week that the SBIA could return to operation in the second quarter of 2019 under a revival program.
The Senate worked for the financing of the SBIA which used to be the country’s best airport.