MANILA – The Clark International Airport’s (CRK) new passenger terminal building is a “strong signal” to the world that the Philippines is open for business, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.
Marcos made this remark during the grand opening of the CRK’s new passenger terminal building where he led the unveiling of the building marker and toured around what has been described as a state-of-the-art facility envisioned to be Asia's next premier gateway.
“...This facility is essentially a very strong signal that yes, indeed, we are open for business. We just opened a new terminal. It is state-of-the-art and this is one of the things that we will continue to do in the future to bring you all to come and be partners with the Philippines to help the lives of our people to help the Philippine economy and para pagandahin ang buhay ng Pilipino, para pagandahin naman natin ang Pilipinas (and to improve the lives of Filipinos, make the country more beautiful),” he said in his speech.
He expressed confidence that the CRK’s new passenger terminal building and other public-private partnership (PPP) projects encourage investors to do business in the Philippines.
He also renewed his commitment to ensuring that the government would do everything so that partnerships are to the advantage of both the public sector, the private sector, and the people.
“...This is a perfect example of what government and the private sector can do. And makikita mo kung private sector lang ang gumawa nito, hindi nila kinaya. Kung gobyerno lang ang gumawa, hindi rin kinaya ito (And you can see that if it’s only the private sector, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish this. If it’s only the government, they wouldn’t be able to do it either). And that is why this is a perfect example of that. And I think it will serve to encourage other people to enter into this kind of arrangements,” he added.
Citing his working visit to the US last week, Marcos recalled how he invited American investors to take part in the Philippines’ economic resurgence.
“This is also the kind of activity that we were actively endorsing when we were in New York and talking to possible investors, in companies who are already in the Philippines but would like to increase their investment. And this is exactly the kind of partnership that we need to encourage,” he said.
He also acknowledged how some businesses and investments had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 health crisis, but noted that the country is now slowly recovering from the impact of the pandemic.
“Ngayon na mukha naman na gumagaan ang problema ng pandemya ay siguro naman panahon na na balikan natin ang ating mga pinaplano tungkol nga sa ganitong klaseng mga project na PPP (Now that the problem of the pandemic seems to be easing, maybe it's time to go back to our plans regarding this kind of PPP projects),” he said.
Logistics center of Asia
Marcos is optimistic about the new facility serving as a “building block” to the government’s goal of turning the Philippines into the “logistics center of Asia.”
“The general idea that [Tourism] Secretary Christina [Garcia-Frasco] and the Cabinet and I have come to is that habang hindi pa natin naaayos ang airport sa Maynila, habang hindi pa naitatayo at nag-operate ‘yung airport sa Bulacan, hindi pa nag-operate ‘yung airport sa Sangley — ito ‘yung mga proposal ngayon eh — ay kailangan natin buksan ang mga airports sa regional (while we have not yet improved our airport in Manila, while we have not yet started operations in our airport in Bulacan and Sangley, our proposal is to open our regional airports),” he said.
He also emphasized the importance of terminal building operations in providing opportunities in the areas of employment, investment, and tourism.
“We need this, we need more, we have many plans for the airport in Manila, we have many plans for the airport surrounding Manila para naman dumami at mas madali ang pagpasok ng ating mga magiging bisita (so that more tourists would find it easier to enter the country),” he added.
Meanwhile, Marcos lauded both concerned national and local government agencies for spearheading the new facility’s construction.
“We have to give credit to the government agencies, the local government, BCDA [Bases Conversion and Development Authority], the Department of Transport (DOTr), of course, for all that they had done,” he said.
He clarified that he was not “taking credit” for the project, but recognizing the importance of its contribution to the Philippine economy.
“This is a good day and let us keep going. We know that this is a good direction for us to take. Let us continue to go down that road and we will see. Dahan-dahan, makikita natin na paganda nang paganda (Slowly, we will start seeing improvements),” he added.
Joining the President during the event were First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, Garcia-Frasco, Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, BCDA chairperson Delfin Lorenzana, Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD) chairperson Frederick Go, and other LIPAD officials.
The CRK’s 10,000 square-meter passenger terminal building, which can accommodate around eight million passengers, aims to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila.
It is the first hybrid PPP project under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration.
In January 2021, the DOTr and the BCDA turned over the new airport terminal to LIPAD Corporation, its operations, and maintenance partner. (PNA)