Clark Freeport Zone

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For the military use of this facility prior to December 1991, see Clark Air Base.
Location (in red) of the Clark Freeport Zone within Angeles City in Pampanga.

Clark Freeport Zone is a redevelopment of the former Clark Air Base, a former United States Air Force base in the Philippines. It is located on the northwest side of Angeles City and on the west side of Mabalacat City in the province of Pampanga. It is located about 40 miles (60 km) northwest of Metro Manila. The zone is a former US military base and has modern infrastructure facilities, generous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, professional support services and other amenities. Today, Clark forms the hub for business, industry, aviation, education, and tourism in the Philippines as well as a leisure, fitness, entertainment and gaming center of Central Luzon.[1]

The Master Plan for the 4,400-hectare (10,868-acre) main zone and 27,600-hectare (68,172-acre) sub zone will transform the zone into an airport-driven urban center targeting high-end IT enabled industries, aviation and logistics related enterprises, tourism and other sectors.

History[edit]

In 1995, following years of neglect since the 1991 base closure due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, cleanup and removal of volcanic ash deposits at the former Clark AB began. The former base re-emerged as Clark International Airport and Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ). The airfield infrastructure was improved to make it one of the most modern in Asia, and a second parallel runway was built. The former base is now home to a golf resort, a number of industrial buildings, casinos, landmarks, and retail establishments. It also hosts the annual Balikatan exercises between the United States and Philippines Armed Forces.

Though many events still occur at Clark, critics have said that the American government left some residual toxic chemicals that now affect the groundwater near the base. Native Filipinos who live nearby show signs of the adverse effects of these chemicals, such as mercury, resulting in leukemia, gangrene, and other severe diseases and health problems. The United States denies responsibility for these actions. A CRC (Clearwater Revival Company) report claimed that "until a more detailed investigation of uncontrolled hazardous waste sites at Clark AB is completed no conclusions can be reached about the present or future safety of the groundwater supply basin." Several organizations, such as FACES (Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Safeguards) and PTFBC (People Task Force for Bases Clean-up), have attempted to begin the detoxification process on the bases.

On March 20, 2007, Clark Air Base was renamed Clark Freeport Philippines, as mandated by Senate Bill 2260 of the 13th Congress and signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Turning Clark into a freeport entitles investors to the same tax-free and other duty-free privileges enjoyed by their counterparts at the Subic Bay Freeport.

Under the new law, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) will remain as administrator of the 4,500-hectare (11,115-acre) Clark freeport. A subsidiary, Clark International Airport Corporation, runs the Clark International Airport. Benny Ricafort, on July 10, 2008, was the next president and chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), to replace Levy Laus effective July 31. Edgardo Pamintuan is the chair of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD) Council.[2]

Since the CDC was created in 1993 to administer Clark, some 389 foreign and domestic investors have moved into the zone, generating some PhP24.3 billion (about US$501.1 million) worth of investments. As of March 2007, over 47,000 people, mostly from Pampanga, Tarlac and Bulacan provinces, are currently employed at Clark.

Future development[edit]

The future international gateway for the country was planned for Clark but is now in limbo as the president seems to favour expanding the existing Manila airport. [Ninoy Aquino International Airport]] (NAIA) is the only airport serving the Manila area. However, in practice, both NAIA and Clark International Airport(CRK) serve the Capital and surrounding cities, with CRK catering mostly to low-cost carriers that avail themselves of the lower landing fees than those charged at NAIA.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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