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BETTER TOGETHER: Heads of Central Luzon agencies pledge to work together for greater development. From left: CIAC Acting President Jaime Alberto Melo, BCDA President Vivencio Dizon, SBMA Chairman Wilma T. Eisma, AFAB Chairman Emmanuel Pineda, and CDC President Noel Manankil.

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma urged local and international businessmen to invest in port development projects here, pointing out that Subic port facilities won’t be enough in the near future as port operations here continue to grow.

Eisma made the appeal during the Subic-Clark Roadshow here on March 12 that was organized by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to present updates on infrastructure projects under the government’s Build-Build-Build program.

According to the SBMA official, Subic needs more and bigger port facilities to accommodate more cargo vessels, as well as passenger ships that now regularly call on Subic as an anchor tourist destination.

“We need new ports. It doesn’t even have to be a cruise ship terminal,” Eisma pointed out. “As of now, we are already experiencing congestion. Manila is congested,” she added.

Eisma had earlier announced that the Subic Bay Freeport made a record-breaking performance in port operations last year when it handled 212,103 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in containerized cargo volume and 7,052 metric tons of bulk and non-containerized cargo.

She added that the Subic seaport has been experiencing a “robust growth” lately, with seaport revenue climbing to P1.23 billion in 2018 from P1.17 billion in 2017 and P1.13 billion in 2016.

On the other hand, Subic has successfully carved a niche in cruise ship tourism last year with 19 cruise ship arrivals in 2018, compared to a single arrival in 2017, Eisma said.

Eisma said the SBMA has commenced major infrastructure projects that would significantly develop the Port of Subic, but that more investments are needed for Subic to provide better services to port users and accommodate bigger maritime vessels.

“We have to have that foresight in place. Build a port somewhere,” she urged business leaders attending the event.

Meanwhile, heads of other investment processing agencies in Central Luzon reported on their ongoing projects and pledged to the common vision of greater economic growth in the region.

Emmanuel Pineda, chairman and administrator of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, urged business leaders to invest at the Bataan Freeport as he emphasized efforts to improve accessibility and develop more investment areas.

Clark Development Corp. President and CEO Noel Manankil cited Clark and Subic’s cooperation in working together to promote tourism and attract investments in Central Luzon.

Clark International Airport acting President and CEO Jaime Alberto Melo, meanwhile, cited Clark’s optimism to attract more domestic and international tourists as the new terminal building under construction is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2020.

For his part, BCDA President and CEO Vivencio Dizon presented updates on the construction of the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) in New Clark City. The NGAC project involves the development of back-up government offices to ensure continuous business operations in case of disaster or national calamities, and world-class facilities to be used for the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th South East Asian Games. – Henry Empeño

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