Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday reiterated his two-track proposal to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), saying it would raise new revenues for the government while at the same time decongest Metro Manila.
Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means and considered by his peers as the “resident economist” of the House of Representatives, said privatizing the NAIA would also answer questions on how the incoming Marcos administration would offset the fiscal impacts of COVID-19.
“We should consider privatizing the NAIA. And let me clarify: I don’t mean just an outright sale, if the incoming President is uncomfortable with disposing government properties. We can adopt the New Clark City approach of master-planning in the area, profiting from the sale of development rights, rental income, appreciating value due to new business activity, and other non-sale means,” Salceda said.
“It’s around 625 hectares, double the size of Bonifacio Global City. So, there’s plenty of potential for value creation there,” he added.
“We can master-plan it so that there is space for worker in-city housing, parks, public transport, and public spaces,” he pointed out.
“A study done on the matter five years ago estimated multiplier effects of redevelopment to be as much as 5.4 trillion pesos in economic value. The land, of course, costs around 400 billion pesos,” he said.
He was referring to a proposal by the San Miguel Corp. for the closure and redevelopment of the airport.
According to him, decommissioning the airport for redevelopment will allow the government to open new “North-South” and “East-West” connections in the NCR.
“You can now basically connect BGC and Manila Bay via an east-west BRT or rail route. It would also allow you to connect Taft Avenue with C5 directly, and we can again establish a BRT route to connect that area to the LRT1. Look at NCR’s map. The shape of NCR is like a bottleneck, and NAIA is like a clog in the bottleneck,” Salceda explained.
Salceda added, however, that the NAIA redevelopment should be complemented with the completion of the North-South Commuter Rail project, as air traffic would be diverted to the Bulacan Airport and to Clark.
“The immediate need, of course, is to have some way for people in places like Batangas or Laguna to have easy access to the new airports in Central Luzon. Otherwise, they lose out,” Salceda noted.
“So, you want the North-South commuter rail to be finished as we redevelop NAIA. That ensures that the South of Manila area has access to international airports.”
“You also want to complete the Bicol Express, the PNR South Long Haul project, because that will allow people from Quezon and Camarines Norte to choose between going to Central Luzon, or using the Bicol International Airport as their airport for use. But basically, completing these rail projects will ensure that NAIA redevelopment plays a larger role in NCR decongestion,” Salceda said.
Salceda also suggested the creation of the Mega Manila Development Council as a means to connect the development of what he called the “North of Manila” and “South of Manila” Growth Corridors.
“The MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) is no longer enough to plan development in the area. You need the governors of Pampanga, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan talking to each other and the MMDA about decongesting the NCR and planning transport and commerce between these areas better.”
“I think President Marcos can create the body by executive order, and he can designate a presidential adviser for Mega Manila Development as their liaison to Malacanang. President Marcos knows well that a convergence strategy is a good way to plan development for these areas, because it was during the time of his father that we had a Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos.”
“And, if we are to be fair in our assessment of development planning, former President Marcos’s concept of unified development in NCR, through the Metro Manila Commission with its own commissioner for planning under Presidential Decree No. 824, was probably, and still is the correct approach to developing our main urban area. It’s just that we have to extend it, since development has now exceeded NCR’s borders.”