A leader of the House of Representatives has reiterated that the privatization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will help the next government to raise new revenues while decongesting Metro Manila.
House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda said in a statement that the privatization of the NAIA can help the incoming Marcos government to offset the fiscal impacts of Covid-19.
Salceda has urged the next administration to privatize the NAIA and some parts of Manila Bay as a means to raise P500 billion to pay for its debts.
“Let me clarify: I don’t mean just an outright sale, if the incoming President is uncomfortable with disposing government properties,” the lawmaker said. “We can adopt the New Clark City approach of master-planning in the area, profiting from the sale of development rights, rental income, appreciating value due to new business activity and other non-sale means.”
Salceda further explained that the NAIA sits on 625 hectares, “double the size of Bonifacio Global City (BGC).”
“So, there’s plenty of potential for value creation there.”
According to the lawmaker, the government can master-plan it so that there is space for worker in-city housing, parks, public transport and public spaces.
“A study done on the matter five years ago estimated multiplier effects of redevelopment to be as much as P5.4 trillion in economic value. The land, of course, costs around P400 billion,” added Salceda, citing the proposal of San Miguel Corp. for the closure and redevelopment of the airport.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is open to selling the NAIA to raise the much-needed revenues to help pay for debts the government incurred after it imposed lockdown measures against Covid-19.
While the privatization of government assets was not listed in the Department of Finance’s (DOF) proposed fiscal consolidation and resource mobilization plan for the incoming administration, Dominguez said selling NAIA is possible but they have to ensure first the development of alternative international airports.
SALCEDA further said that decommissioning the airport for redevelopment will allow the government to open new “North-South” and “East-West” connections in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“You can now basically connect BGC and Manila Bay via an east-west BRT or rail route. It would also allow you to connect Taft Avenue with C-5 [Circumferential Road 5] directly and we can again establish a BRT [Bus Rapid Transit] route to connect that area to the LRT 1 [Light Rail Transit Line 1]. Look at NCR’s map. The shape of NCR is like a bottleneck and NAIA is like a clog in the bottleneck,” he explained.
Salceda, however, said that the redevelopment of the NAIA should be complemented with the completion of the North-South Commuter Rail project, as air traffic will be diverted to the Bulacan Airport and to Clark.
“The immediate need, of course, is to have some way for people in places like Batangas or Laguna to have easy access to the new airports in Central Luzon. Otherwise, they lose out,” Salceda said. “So, you want the North-South commuter rail to be finished as we redevelop NAIA. That ensures that the South of Manila area has access to international airports.”
According to the lawmaker, government must also need to complete the “Bicol Express, the PNR South Long Haul project, because that will allow people from Quezon and Camarines Norte to choose between going to Central Luzon or using the Bicol International Airport as their airport for use.”
“But basically, completing these rail projects will ensure that NAIA redevelopment plays a larger role in NCR decongestion,” Salceda added.
SALCEDA also suggested the creation of the “Mega Manila Development Council” as a means to connect the development of what he calls the “North of Manila Growth Corridor” and the “South of Manila Growth Corridor.”
“The MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) is no longer enough to plan development in the area. You need the governors of Pampanga, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan talking to each other and the MMDA about decongesting the NCR and planning transport and commerce between these areas better,” he said.
“I think President Marcos can create the body by Executive Order and he can designate a Presidential Adviser for Mega Manila Development as their liaison to Malacañang. Marcos knows well that a convergence strategy is a good way to plan development for these areas, because it was during the time of his father that we had a Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos,” Salceda said.
“And, if we are to be fair in our assessment of development planning, former President Marcos’s concept of unified development in NCR, through the Metro Manila Commission with its own commissioner for planning under Presidential Decree 824, was probably and still is the correct approach to developing our main urban area. It’s just that we have to extend it, since development has now exceeded NCR’s borders,” he added.