By Reynaldo G. Navales
CLARK FREEPORT -- The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) will be the premier gateway in the Philippines due to its location, said Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara.
Ishihara expressed optimism over the current developments in the Subic Freeport-Clark Freeport Zone, a vital corridor that will provide development of a world-class megalogistics and services hub.
"It is very good that this (DMIA) is being developed into a premier airport and logistics hub of economic activities not only for the Philippines but for the entire region of Asia," he said as told by an interpreter after a brief visit at the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) office.
Ishihara arrived here at 11:30 a.m., accompanied by Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando and other government officials to get a glimpse of the on-going developments at DMIA in particular the entire 2,500 civil aviation complex.
He was met by CIAC President Victor Jose Luciano, Executive Vice President Alexander Caugiran, and Subic Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC) Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan. Clark Development Corporation Executive Vice President Philip Panlilio was also there to welcome the Tokyo governor.
During a briefing at the CIAC boardroom, Ishihara was impressed by the various ongoing developments at DMIA and at the entire 4,400 hectare Clark Freeport Zone, saying that DMIA is headed for economic opportunities as it becomes the next gateway of the Philippines.
Pamintuan informed Ishihara who was also a close friend of the late senator Benigno Aquino that Clark is a bastion of Industrial Economic activities with more than 400 locators employing close to 50,000 workers coming from the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.
Pamintuan said President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo envisioned Clark especially DMIA to be next Mega Logistics Hub to compete with other countries such as Singapore, HongKong, Malaysia, China, and Thailand.
Luciano also told the foreign official that DMIA has two parallel runways, which can accommodate even the largest aircraft in the world. He added that there is enough space for a third runway to accommodate more aircrafts in the near future.
He added that by January 2008, the P130-million Terminal Expansion would be completed to accommodate at least 2 million passengers annually. The runways are being catered by Low Cost Carrier airlines plying the route of DMIA in Clark Freeport.
Among the air carriers are Tiger Airways, Air Asia, Asiana Airlines, South East Asian Airlines (Seair), and Cebu Pacific. DMIA average at least 35 flights per week since operations started in October 2003.
Luciano said the second Phase of the project is called the Premier Gateway Terminal. It would accommodate 5 million passengers annually.
DMIA is also equipped with the state-of the art navigational equipments such as the Instrument Landing System, Doppler VHF Omni-Directional Range, Terminal Radar Approach Control, Primary and Secondary Surveillance Radar and Non Directional Beacon, Airfield Ground Lighting System, Precision Approach Path Indicator.
It has a Crash, Fire and Rescue Equipments. These are requirement set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for a Category 1 airport.
He also informed the Delegation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that the P21 billion Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) will be completed by March 2008.
Travel time would only be 30 minuets from Clark to Subic.
The Tokyo Delegation also includes Tadateru Yamada senior director in charge of Policies of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Hitoshi Kuwabara Special Police for the Governor, Mariko Nagai Interpreter, Hiroki Tomita of Tokyo Metropolitan Television, Shigeru Hyodo Special Political Assistant, Toshiyuki Taga Chief Protocol, Nagatoshi Nakamura Senior Director for the International Joint Projects, Masahiko Endo Senior Director in charge of policies, Yoshi Makino Senior Staff of International Joint Projects, Keiichi Sato , and Japanese Journalists.