Bill seeking to strengthen BCDA hurdles House

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

August 22, 2023, 6:27 pm

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on final reading a measure seeking to strengthen the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to effectively manage former military bases and facilities.

During the plenary session, a total of 231 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 8505, which would amend certain provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 7227, the law that created BCDA. Three lawmakers voted against the measure, while no one abstained from voting.

Speaker Martin Romualdez said RA 7227, enacted in 1992, needs to be updated to enable the BCDA to effectively carry out its mandate of converting, managing or disposing of former military bases primarily for the benefit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the communities around them and the nation in general.

He noted that a large part of the proceeds from the sale of parts of military reservations in Metro Manila was allocated to the AFP modernization program.

He cited the development of the former American navy and air force bases in Subic in Zambales and Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga into special economic zones (SEZs), which benefited the communities around them, the local government units, and the nation’s economy in general.

“We have airports in Clark and Subic. Subic also has a deep water port. With the necessary infrastructure, these two SEZs can be transformed into regional manufacturing and logistics hubs and tourist destinations. We have to maximize their potential,” he said.

The measure seeks to increase the authorized capital of the government-owned and controlled corporation from PHP100 billion to PHP400 billion, which may be fully subscribed by the national government and funded either in cash or property.

The bill also seeks to extend the term of BCDA for another 50 years.

The bill also declares as “alienable and disposable” residential and residential mixed-use lands identified by BCDA in its master development plan for the economic zones.

However, the areas to be classified as alienable and disposable shall not be more than 5 percent of the total area of each economic zone.

The proposed law allows the BCDA to sell these alienable and disposable lands, the proceeds from which shall accrue to the agency.

The BCDA shall submit to the Office of the President periodic updates on the disposition of the subject lands, it added. (PNA)