PRESIDENT ARROYO LEADS TODAY'S CLARK CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS

CLARK FIELD, PAMPANGA, September 1, 2003 (STAR) By Ding Cervantes  - President Arroyo leads today’s centennial commemoration of this former US military base which is now a bustling special economic zone.

"Clark Field’s 100 years of existence provide a glimpse of significant events in Philippine history. A little more than 10 years ago, Clark Field was a US armed forces installation, and was a symbol of US military presence in Asia," the President said in her message to the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), which runs this 4,500-hectare ecozone.

"Given the historical perspective, we can easily appreciate the transformation of Clark into a showcase of Philippine economy. Under the stewardship of the (CDC), Clark developed from an abandoned air base into the regional investment hub that it is now," she said.

The President added: "Clark’s story provides us with inspiration and invaluable lessons on how we can replicate its success in other parts of the country."

On Sept. 1, 1903, then US President Theodore Roosevelt officially designated the area as a reservation of the US cavalry. It used to be known as Fort Stotsenberg before its conversion into an US Air Force base.

The Americans abandoned Clark in 1991 in the face of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

Emmanuel Angeles, CDC president and chief executive officer, said Clark’s future is "bright as we work toward the realization of the ‘aerotropolis’ concept of development, which envisions Clark to emerge as an airport-driven special economic zone, through massive infrastructure build-up, cooperation among localities and robust economic growth."

Various foreign and domestic firms have committed P84 billion in investments at Clark, generating at least 27,521 jobs so far.

Meanwhile, the President is also slated to inspect today the completed portions of the North Luzon Expressway, which is now being upgraded and expanded by the Manila North Tollways Corp.

Sections in San Simon, Pampanga and Guiguinto, Bulacan are nearing completion. Work on the main stretch of the 84-kilometer expressway from Balintawak in Quezon City to Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, Pampanga is expected to be finished in May next year. — With Ric Sapnu


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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