By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, Manila Bulletin
Expansion of the country’s two premier freeports Subic and Clark is being pushed to accommodate new investments.
Subic Bay and Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is pressing for the expansion of Subic Bay Freeport boundaries as they are running out of areas to accommodate new investors.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who served as SBMA’s first chief executive and chairman from 1992 to 1998, had filed Senate Bill 2207 the other week to expand the area of the Subic Bay Freeport, as well as that of the neighboring Clark Freeport.
Under the proposed measure, some parts of Zambales and Bataan provinces, along with areas in Olongapo City, will be made an adjunct of the Subic Bay Freeport under a phased expansion program.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said that in consultation with neighboring local government units last year, the SBMA has gotten pledges of about 21,000 hectares of expansion areas for future investment projects.
These include 9,000 hectares in San Antonio; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino; 500-600 hectares in Subic; 500 hectares in Castillejos; and 900 hectares in Olongapo City, all in Zambales; as well as 505 hectares in Hermosa, Bataan.
“We want these areas to be utilized as economic zones because we’re already running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” Eisma said.
The proposed expansion, she added, “will sustain the growth of the Subic Freeport, attract more investments, and generate jobs for residents from nearby communities and other areas.”
Senate Bill 2207 also seeks to increase the area of the Clark Special Economic Zone from the current 4,400 hectares to 35,400 hectares and mandates Subic and Clark authorities to frame some master plan for the phased expansion.
In filing the bill, Gordon said that there was a need to update Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, in order to further strengthen the Subic and Clark free ports.
He said that once enacted, the proposed measure will also give the expanded territories the same tax incentives as those in Subic Freeport and Clark Freeport so that they can attract investments projects.