Clark Field, Pampanga, July 28, 2003 (Star) Moves for the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to take over the operations of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here met stiff opposition from local government and business leaders.

This, as President Arroyo has directed the revival of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

"There is an orchestrated move for people at the national level to assume jurisdiction over the CIAC for motives tinged with politics," said Romy Yusi, president of the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MACCI).

There are reports that President Arroyo earlier had told Emmanuel Angeles, president and chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), that he would also head the CIAC, but that this was being allegedly blocked by officials of the MIAA and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The DMIA covers about half of the 4,500-hectare Clark special economic zone (CSEZ) and hosts other investors such as the Yokohama tire firm and the United Parcel Service (UPS), which has put up its intra-Asian hub at the airport.

The MIAA was reported to have committed some P100 million for the full development of the DMIA, which, in 1994, was declared by former President Fidel Ramos as the "future premiere international airport" of the country.

Yusi, however, expressed fears that an MIAA takeover would again derail long-delayed plans to finally transform the DMIA into a world-class airport.

He said the CDC has laid out plans for the full development of the DMIA, including the installation of an $11-million aviation radar. The Philippine Veterans Bank and Philippine Export and Import Bank have also offered P500-million credit and $100-million guarantee facilities, respectively.

"Why do some people want to take over the DMIA now that it is earning and has been made stable?" Yusi asked.

Tars Halili, board chairman of the Philippine Realtors Boards Inc., said, "I believe the CDC should have more hand in running the affairs of the DMIA which should not be dictated by people in Manila. We have many qualified people in the CDC who are all Capampangans."

In an interview with a local cable television station, Halili said the CDCís powers should even be expanded to enable it to fully carry out its plans to convert this former US Air Force base into an "aerotropolis" by transforming it into an authority similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

"The constant change in leadership brought about by the lack of security of tenure (of CDC leaders) has been adversely affecting the implementation of vital development programs at the Clark special economic zone," he said. ó Ding Cervantes

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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