Page last updated at 03:05 CST6CDT, Sunday, 17 March 2019 PH
A few years back, USAID identified three international port cities that can replace Manila as the major international port of the Philippines. These were Batangas City in Luzon; Iloilo City in the Visayas; and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao. Some CRC economists were involved in these studies and are now ensuring that at least one of them, Batangas City, can benefit from the Build Build Build push of the present Administration. The LGU of Batangas province is recognized for its progressive thinking and the competence and integrity of its officials. Its officials have identified three major infrastructure projects that can hasten the transformation of the province into another megapolis rivalling Metro Manila in the next ten to twenty years. CRC professionals have identified these projects for possible PPP funding at the LGU level. They are the Batangas International Cargo Airport; the expansion of the Batangas Seaport (Phase IV) and the Batangas-Calamba Railway Spur Line.
The first target for conversion into the Batangas International Airport was the Fernando Military Airbase in Lipa, Batangas. Initial negotiations with the military revealed some insurmountable bureaucratic obstacles that would unduly delay the implementation of the project. The Batangas government officials decided to focus on private lands in the municipalities of Alitagtag and San Pascual for the airport project. Instead of a public private partnership project, this airport can be built using the private-to-private agreement between the airport operator and a land developer. Such an airport, mainly for cargo, will facilitate air logistics for the numerous factories located in industrial parks in Southern Luzon and will complement the railway from Calamba to the Batangas seaport.
Some 1,000 hectares of private land in Alitagtag and San Pascual have already been identified for development. Energy requirements will be supplied from the nearby power plants located in Calaca and other sites in the province. Aviation fuel depot is ten kilometers away in Batangas City. There will be no need for reclamation since the 1,000 hectares are fully land based. The area is well connected with roads and has no history of flooding. The runway orientation is Northeast to Southwest with full-length parallel taxiways. There is ample space for passenger terminal, apron and apron-taxi lane; ditto for cargo facilities. There will be space for fuel facilities, maintenance and storage as well as an industrial park. There is also reserved space for future expansion.
Already having more passenger traffic than the Manila seaport, the Batangas International Port is well positioned to replace Manila as the main international gateway to Luzon. Ready for a PPP proposal is the reclamation and construction of two container terminals and cargo berths for international containerized cargo in the existing Batangas International Port. The project will involve the reclamation of 296.4 hectares with total volume of 15.2 million cubic meters of land to be reclaimed. Such an expansion of the existing BIP will double the inbound and outbound cargo carrying capacity of CALABARZON area and decongest cargo traffic at Port of Manila. It will allow the BIP to handle international cargo that is estimated to grow at 7 to 10% annually in the next decade or so. To complete the tri-modal transport system for the Greater Batangas Area is the Batangas-Calamba Railway Spur Line consisting of a 55-kilometer extension of the North-South Railway project. Such a cargo train can be profitable from day one because of the numerous industrial parks lining the corridors linking the provinces of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas.
Also being studied by the CRC LGU team are proposed sites for the Iloilo Ecozone Development. Already a preferred site for real estate developments, Iloilo can also play an important role as an industrial center in the Visayas considering that Metro Cebu is also bursting at the seams, with a traffic problem that is sometimes worse than Manila. The Iloilo Economic Development Foundation is a private institution that is working closely with the Iloilo provincial government in long-term economic development planning. Part of its task is to identify proposed sites for the Iloilo Ecozone Development to house industrial projects that can be attracted to locate in the province. Three towns have been identified: Concepcion, Dumangas and Leganes. Prospective locators can contact the CRC team that is preparing the pre-feasibility studies for these locations as well as the projects for Batangas and Bataan through Mr. Martin Badoy, email@example.com. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.