ARROYO  REJECTS  CLARK  CBD  PLAN  TO  BE  BUILT  AT  DM  INT'L  AIRPORT

CLARK FREEPORT, PAMPANGA
, AUGUST 15, 2007 (STAR) By Ding Cervantes  – “They won’t get it.”

With these words, President Arroyo settled once and for all yesterday the controversy over the proposal of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) to build a central business district (CBD) in a 300-hectare area within the aviation complex of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here.

Mrs. Arroyo made the remarks during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, according to the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

CIAC chairman Nestor Mangio, president Victor Jose Luciano and executive vice president Alexander Cauguiran attended the meeting and briefed the President on development plans for the DMIA.

CIAC quoted Secretary Romulo Neri, former head of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), as saying that the DMIA “would lose its chances of becoming the country’s premier international gateway if it repeats the mistakes of NAIA in allowing residential and commercial interests to eat into its area.”

Many Central Luzon leaders had sought the President’s intervention against the CDC’s plan to build a CBD in a 300-hectare portion of the aviation complex.

Last June, Mangio and Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council chairman Edgardo Pamintuan also appealed to Malacañang to block the plan.

Last Monday, former CDC president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Angeles sent a formal letter to the President also to seek her intervention against the CBD plan, which he said “will jeopardize the safety standards of the DMIA.”

“Our Asian neighbors such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea have embarked on ambitious airport development projects with features similar to DMIA’s, spending millions of dollars to locate in vast areas at least one-hour drive away from thickly populated business centers and capital cities. This is so not only to avoid traffic but also in compliance with international safety standards,” Angeles said in his letter.

$21-M  ANTI-CORRUPTION  GRANT  FROM  U.S.  TO  BOOST  BIR  COLLECTION

(STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is better equipped to improve its collection and deal with anomalies with the unveiling of a training center in Cebu, which was funded from a $21-million “anti-corruption” grant from Washington.

The US government recently turned over the training facility to the BIR regional office in Cebu City, as part of the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines Threshold Program (MCA-PTP) aimed at improving the revenue administration in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The P3.6-million fully furnished BIR training facility is equipped with 36 desktop computers, an LCD projector and sound system and is designed to accommodate 35 BIR personnel.

The training center will help BIR personnel implement efficiently the National Rollout of Computerized Systems (NRCS) – a program that aims to reduce costs and streamline operations at the agency.

The training center may also be used for human resource development projects.

The US government’s Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) arranges MCA-funded programs with developing countries. The grant or aid under the program is meant to reinforce good governance, economic freedom, and investments.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said the MCC program represents an important opportunity for the US and the Philippines to deepen their partnership. MCC approved the $21-million grant in July last year.

The program complements the Medium-Term Development Plan 2004-2010 of the Arroyo administration.

The US Embassy administers the Philippine program through the United States Agency for International Development or USAID.

Prior to the approval of the grant, MCA cited the Philippines’ “persistent problems with public corruption.”

MCA, in a statement, also noted the “conflicts of interest in the public sector and weak enforcement of existing anti-corruption laws.”

After the approval of the program, the US advised the Philippines to work out a comprehensive action plan for boosting revenue collection and curbing corruption.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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