Ramon Ang: Bulacan airport ecozone to create more export revenues, jobs once Marcos veto concerns addressed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) – A revised version of a bill seeking to put up an economic zone near a planned airport north of Metro Manila – while addressing issues raised by the president – will result in more export revenue and create jobs, the top official of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) said on Monday.

Tax incentives that will be granted in the ecozone will pass through the Finance Department’s fiscal review board, said SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Ang, adding that there is enough distance from neighboring Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone to complement growth and open opportunities outside Metro Manila.

“We respect and abide by the government's decision. We thank him for recognizing where the proposed free port bill can be further improved, and we look forward to working with his administration towards perfecting this,” said Ang in a statement, referring to House Bill 7575, or the proposed Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Bill, which was vetoed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

He said the proposed ecozone’s full potential will still be realized while factoring in the points raised by the president in his veto message to the Senate.

“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,” said Ang.

“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 US$200 billion in annual exports - a big boost to our GDP (gross domestic product),” he added.

The ecozone is adjacent to SMC’s planned ₱740-billion New Manila International Airport, seen to help decongest the country’s main gateway Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

In Monday’s media briefing, the press secretary said the bill could be refined to avoid legal challenges that could delay its implementation.

READ: Palace says vetoed Bulacan airport ecozone bill needs to be 'sharpened,' questions blanket powers 

Besides an assured government review of fiscal incentives, Ang said the long-term benefits of fresh jobs from new investments and transfer of knowledge and technology will “far outweigh and outnumber” any “losses” seen from the granting of perks

He added that competition between the Bulacan airport and Clark International Airport, which was raised by some officials, will not be an issue as the country needs several airports to serve the population and economic growth of Metro Manila and provinces of Luzon.

He cited the multiple airport strategy of large cities like New York and Tokyo.

“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,” said Ang.

Meanwhile, Ang said SMC will remain on its path of growth through nation-building and the construction of Bulacan airport.

“We believe in, and fully subscribe to President Marcos’ message of unity. It’s something we have always tried to demonstrate in many ways, particularly in times of great difficulty for our nation. We will do everything we can to help President Bongbong Marcos and his administration succeed, because their success is our country’s success,” said Ang.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill seeking the ecozone’s creation in late May under the previous Congress. 

Lawmakers from both the House and Senate have committed to refiling the measure.