SENATOR Richard J. Gordon lamented the deterioration of the Subic Bay International Airport and Clark International Airport which he said have been turned into “non-performing assets.”
“We let the wolf near the sheep or we allowed the snake to come near the chickens,” said Gordon, who served as Olongapo City mayor and Subic Bay Metropolian Authroity chairman.
Gordon said the government is using only the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which has come to a “very sorry state” that brings constant damage to the reputation of the country.
Had the government used SBIA and the CIA, Gordon said the Philippine government would have eased traffic woes, trade and economic losses when APEC was held in the country.
Because of this, the senator called for an investigation on how both SBIA and CIA, considered as two of the country’s crown jewels, have reached their present state of deterioration.
“We have a lot of lost opportunities in our country. We used to have the highest literacy rate in Asia. There was a time, too when we were second only to Japan in terms of military power that our Air Force even had Blue Diamonds. We also lost our railways. We cannot allow this to continue,” he stressed.
Gordon recalled how he and the volunteers worked day and night to protect and preserve the facilities after the Americans turned over the facilities to us 24 years ago.
The senator also said he voiced his umbrage over the loss of the state-of-the-art equipment at SBIA, which used to be the country’s best airport under his leadership, and the fact that Clark International Airport has not been fully optimized.
“After the US withdrawal, volunteers made Subic a thriving zone. When I was still SBMA chairman, we turned Subic into a flourishing Freeport—SBIA was a big income earner, with chartered flights coming in daily,” said Gordon.
He said they made sure Subic and Clark will not go the path taken by Sangley Point.
“Thus, FedEx opened a hub for its Asian operation in Subic, with 18 flights coming in daily at SBIA. We also had Enron, Acer and other big companies in Subic,” said Gordon.
Unfortunately, after he was removed chairman of SBMA, “it was as if we let grass grow under our feet after FedEx left. There were no more promotions for SBIA, there were no more chartered planes coming in. Clark was never improved.”
Gordon pointed out that instead of spending much time investigating extrajudicial killings, and other prurient and salacious but trivial issues, he said the country would be better off if its officials would focus more on legislation and policies that would result in job and investment generation.
“We spend time investigating the extrajudicial killings, scandalous issues, and others. But surely we can take time for other things. Surely we can find time for policies and laws that would result in labor generation, in investment generation. Surely, we can make time for opportunity-building. Poverty is an absence of choice. We are poor because we have no choice, we don’t have high-paying jobs to choose from because there are little or no investments,” he said.