Duterte’s plan to develop alternate airport met with optimism

  • Duterte’s plans to roll out developing the Clark free port and the Clark Airport was met with optimism by various sectors
  • Alex Cauguiran of the Advocacy for Dual Airport Priority believes that the President is sincere with his plans
  • Duterte told Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in the first cabinet meeting to implement these plans

Optimism greeted President Duterte’s plan to develop alternate airport, the Clark International Airport (CRK).

Alex Cauguiran, head of the recently-convened coalition Advocacy for Dual Airport Priority (Adapt), told the Inquirer that the President’s pronouncements “validated his statement” about making the CRK an active international gateway.

Adapt has consistently been encouraging Duterte to define and implement a dual airport strategy for CRK and NAIA. Part of this proposed strategy is directing government agencies to establish pre-employment procedures and services near or within the area of the CRK.

“I believe he is sincere in developing the CRK. He said he would discourage new factories in Metro Manila and instead encourage them outside,” Cauguiran, who met with Duterte last June 13, stated.

“We also discussed that in the ‘certainty of development’ of Clark, support services, industries, investments and generation of employment will follow and all these will lead to development in the region,” Cauguiran added.

Other groups also support Duterte’s movement, including Ruperto Cruz, chair of the multi-sectoral coalition Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement.

“I think he means well. But it remains to be seen whether Tugade will [fulfill] the plan,” Cruz told the Inquirer.

Cruz is referring to the President’s direct instruction to the Secretary of Transportation, Arthur Tugade, in the first cabinet meeting to develop Clark.

In the meeting, Duterte reportedly asked Tugade about making a new road that leads to the Pampanga airport where some domestic flights can be transferred. The subject at hand at that point was Metro Manila’s congestion problems.

“If we can have a road … then just transfer flights to Pampanga so they don’t clog the [Ninoy Aquino International Airport]. The best in the meantime is one road network that will be geared toward Pampanga and Clark so we can use the [CRK],” Duterte said.

Duterte also mentioned plans of having a fast train that links Manila and Clark during the election campaign period.

In a report by SunStar, Duterte also mentioned the possibility of building an airport in Cavite but that is not yet in the near future.

“I don’t know if we have the money to build an airport in Sangley (in Cavite). If investors will come in, then go but for the meantime, we have to remedy the overcrowded sky of NAIA,” he said.

Tugade stated in a phone interview with the Inquirer that he is serious about implementing the President’s marching order concerning Clark’s free port system and the CRK.