CLARK FREEPORT—Former President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga tagged the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) as her most important legacy to Capampangans.
“To me, the SCTEx, among all other construction projects when I was President, was my most important legacy to my province of Pampanga,” Arroyo said in her speech at the Royce Hotel and Casino here on Monday, shortly after the formal inauguration and drive-through of the new access ramps of SCTEx in Barangay Mabiga. The access ramps form part of the Mabiga Interchange, permanently removing the U-turn slot in the spur road and Santa Ines exit ramp to Magalang town in nearby Mabalacat City.
Arroyo said she canceled all her appointments just to attend the formal inauguration.
“Every time they invite me, I cancel all my other appointments so that I can come,” she added to underscore the importance of the event.
Arroyo said she is happy that President Duterte thinks the same way for Pampanga and the region, especially after saying, when he came here on December 7, 2017, during the Capampangan food festival, that Metro Manila is decaying and the other alternative and the counter magnet is the Clark-Subic area, which is the most competitive in service and logistics center in the region and the counter magnet for Metro Manila.
“Therefore any infrastructure roadway like the Nlex [North Luzon Expressway], SCTEx, TPLEx[Tarclac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway] and the whole beltway is important for the development north of Manila. This interchange with all of the features that were explained is indeed a very important tool in making the Subic-Clark corridor the most competitive center in the region,” she said.
Arroyo expressed her gratitude to Nlex Corp. “for being a willing and cooperative private-public partner.”
She said the Clark airport terminal, which is under construction, is an important component in the development of the region.
She also emphasized how the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Clark railway, where its Manila-to-Malolos segment is under construction and its Malolos-to-Clark leg is undergoing a feasibility study, will also contribute to the region’s growth.
“Pampanga is very suitable for industries, sustainable industries in accordance with the Megalopolis master plan and this is what we are doing,” she said.
“We are doing this to promote investments in this part of the region,” she added, as she announced that “on March 22, Clark and Pampanga executives, together with the Cagayan economic zone, will go to Hong Kong and China to promote specific investments and follow up on firms and industries that have expressed interests in investing in our area.”
Arroyo said that when investors express their interest, “it’s not enough just to wait for them to pursue that interest. We have to pursue that interest for them.”
The former President also said the ambassador of Korea came to visit last Saturday and said there are more Korean firms that want to invest here in Clark and in Pampanga.
“I have suggested to [Clark Development Corp. President and CEO] Noel Manankil to pursue that lead… we have to pursue them because they are probably looking at other nations, too, and we have a contest to be able to get them here,” Arroyo said. “That’s a lesson I learned when I was President. It’s not enough that they know there is a nice special place here. We have to compete with other possible nice places to invest in,” she added.
“When I was President, we went out of our way to court those who said they would like to be here. That’s how we got Hanjin [Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines] to put in a billion dollars in Subic. That’s how we got Phoenix [Semiconductor], the sister company of Samsung, to commit a billion dollars and I’m very glad to learn that tomorrow, they will be having an expansion as part of their billion dollars,” Arroyo said.