San Miguel Corp. said Monday it will cooperate with the government to realize the vision of Bulacan Airport Economic Zone in generating $200 billion in export revenues annually.
SMC president and chief executive Ramon Ang expressed optimism about the development of the proposed ecozone, despite President Ferdinand Macos Jr.’s veto of House Bill 7575, or “An Act Establishing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport”.
“We respect and abide by the government’s decision. We thank him for recognizing where the proposed Freeport bill can be further improved, and we look forward to working with his administration towards perfecting this. We are eager to continue working with government, and play an active role in helping our country reach its goals—as we have faithfully and consistently done,” said Ang.
Ang, whose group is fully financing and building the P740-billion New Manila International Airport project in Bulacan, said the ecozone’s full potential would still be realized if all the issues raised in the President’s veto could be addressed.
He said the Bulacan economic zone, if approved, would be managed by the Philippine government, and any tax incentives given to investors would still pass the Department of Finance’s Fiscal Incentives Review Board review and approval process, to ensure these are aligned with the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act.
“Among our plans for the ecozone is to help create science and technology export hubs with the cheapest logistics cost, because these will be close to the airport and seaport. We are looking to attract world-class semiconductor manufacturers, battery power storage system manufacturers, electric vehicle makers and even modular nuclear power assemblies and other new and emerging tech industries. We estimate these industries alone will add some $200 billion in annual exports—a big boost to our GDP,” Ang said.
He said the long-term benefits to the country of the ecozone would far outweigh and outnumber any supposed “losses” due to the grant of incentives to potential investors.
Ang said these benefits include hundreds of thousands of new jobs to be generated, which would benefit the next and future generations of young Filipino graduates, professionals and skilled workers.
Ang also addressed the issue of NMIA being close to the Clark Airport, which was mentioned in the veto and was initially raised by the Department of Finance under the Duterte administration, which said NMIA would “compete” with Clark International Airport.
Clark Development Corp. said it welcomes the veto of HB 7575, saying it put emphasis on the significant role of Clark Special Economic Zone as the center of economic development, not only to Central Luzon but to the rest of the country.
“This sets the tone of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s administration vis-a-vis Clark Freeport Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone. This decision is a big boost to our marketing efforts and our goals of attracting investments in Clark. God bless this administration for not succumbing to pressures from the proponents of the Bulacan City Special Economic and Freeport,” CDC president and chief executive Manuel Gaerlan said in a statement.
Ang said that apart from the considerable distance between the two airports—Clark is about 100 kilometers from Metro Manila—large and progressive cities all over the world employ a multiple airport strategy, such as Tokyo and New York, among others.
“What we don’t want is to repeat the mistakes of the past where we were not quick enough to develop new infrastructure, giving rise to overcapacity and congestion on our aging roads, ports, and other facilities, and even in our skies. Temporary fixes will not do anymore. We are building for the future, with a clear vision of a fully-developed and progressive, prosperous Philippines,” Ang said.