Bernardo M. Villegas
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Central Luzon As Federal State (Part 2)

          A major building program of the National Government that will contribute significantly to transforming Central Luzon into a de facto federal state is  the 200-hectare National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) that has broken ground at the New Clark City (formerly called Clark Green City). Phase 1-A of the P13 billion NGAC project involves the development of backup offices of various agencies to ensure continuous business operations and services in case of disaster or natural calamities.  Already the Department of Transportation has moved its main office to Central Luzon.  In the New Clark City, there will be a one-stop shop for all businesses operating in Region 3.

         Central Luzon can attract workers from all over the Philippines because of the job-generating capacities of the many investments, both public and private, that are ongoing in the region.  Angeles City is already a leading educational center producing high-quality university graduates from such prestigious universities as Holy Angel University and Angeles University.  There are also a good number of TESDA-certified technical schools that are  turning out skilled workers  for electronics factories, the construction industry, and the hospitality sector.  Already at the Clark Freeport Zone, there are close to 108,000 workers, registering an increase of over 14,000 within an 11-month period. These workers are employed by some 943 registered enterprises in CFZ, including some government agencies as of the end of 2017.   Australian and Japanese officials have announced their intentions to pour in more investments in the Clark area.

         No other than the Secretary of Finance of President Duterte, Carlos G. Dominguez III announced in the Philippine Economic Briefing 2018 in Clark that the New Clark City is envisioned to be a hub of agro-industrial activities, home to cutting-edge technology and logistics companies, and host to well-equipped backup government centers and world-class sports activities.  As one of the contributions to make Clark a major sports center in the ASEAN region, Clark Development Corporation is helping in the construction of a multi-purpose gym for a community college in Mabalacat City, just adjacent to Angeles and Clark.  Clark, with its world class international airport and surrounded with vast expanse of land, will be an ideal location for sports training facilities for the Asia Pacific region.  For example, football players all over the world can benefit from pitches to be built in the area so that those who are in countries that experience severe cold weather during winter can train in facilities to be built in the Clark area.  These facilities could be offered especially to the Chinese who are intent to train hundreds of thousands of football players to be able to reach their goal of winning the World Cup some time in the next twenty or so years.

         The investment boom is not limited to Angeles and Clark.  San Fernando City is getting its own share of business expansion.  The NLEX Corporation has started the construction of an additional lane in the northbound exist rap of San Fernando City to address the heavy volume of vehicles in the area, especially during rush hours.  The expansion project involves the widening of the 336-meter northbound exit ramp heading towards Pampanga’s capital city increasing the number of deceleration lanes to two.  Philippines Taj Autgroup, Inc. (PTAI), distributor of India’s largest automaker, Tata Motors, opened their newest dealership in San Fernando last October 2017.  This new dealer offers the latest Tata Motors vehicles form the biggest ten-wheeler Prima heavy-duty trucks down to the smallest utility vehicles and passenger cars.  The showroom can accommodate seven vehicle display while the workshop has seven service workdays for after sales.   Century Properties is planning a P6-billion town center project in San Fernando City. The property is located within the San Fernando Interchange on Jose Abad Santos Avenue and the North Luzon Expressway and situated across the SM and Robinson malls in the city.

         Also in San Fernando City will be the upcoming Capital Town project of Megaword which envisions generating 250,000 jobs, both direct and indirect. in such sectors as BPO-IT, transport, retail, food and construction.  This will be the first integrated urban township north of Manila. Having pioneered in building the first cyber city in Metro Manila, the Eastwood City along C-5, Megaworld has a surefire formula for attracting Business Process Outsourcing, Knowledge Process Outsourcing and Shared Services  locators. Not very far behind will be residential condominium units that will be in great demand among the tens of thousands of workers in the various service enterprises that will be locating in the township.  As it did in its township in the Global City of Fort Bonifacio, Megaworld can be expected to put up sports facilities like the very attractive Emperador football stadium that has been the venue for numerous football tournaments.  The decision of a leading real estate developer like Megaworld to locate in Central Luzon is a harbinger of the rapid urbanization and industrialization that will transform Central Luzon into a metropolis as powerful as the National Capital Region.  There are other ways of skinning the cat of federalization.  Like Central Luzon, other territories such as Metro Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, and General Santos, among others, can realistically aspire to become de facto federal states in the next ten to twenty years.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.