CLARK FREEPORT – Management of Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga was turned over Friday to a private consortium amid optimism that the terminal, a major gateway, will ease air traffic in Manila and help spur development of Central Luzon.
The new CRK terminal, the first hybrid Public-Private Partnership project of the Duterte administration, was 75-percent complete as of July, and will be fully operational by 2020. By then, airport capacity would have tripled from the current 4.2 million passengers.
The government turned over CRK operations and maintenance (O&M) to the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development (LIPAD) Corp., a consortium of Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc., and Changi Airports Philippines (I) Pt. Ltd.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Bases Conversion and Development Authority President/CEO Vivencio Dizon led the turnover ceremony at the new terminal site here. Accepting the responsibility for LIPAD was its president/CEO Bi Yong Chungunco.
Aside from managing the terminal, the consortium will develop airport commercial assets, operate project facilities, and fit-out the new terminal under a 25-year concession contract.
Tugade said: “I saw the improvements in the terminal, and CRK has been flying so high in terms of increasing ridership and airline operations. To LIPAD, paliparin mo ang paliparan na ito! Make it go and make it grow, so it becomes the envy of airports in the country and all over the world.”
Dizon commended LIPAD for transforming CRK into one of the region’s premier airports: “The Duterte administration is committed to making Clark the next premier economic hub in Asia. We thank LIPAD, a powerhouse consortium, for taking on the challenge of making it a major gateway.”
Chungunco said: “We are excited for the role that LIPAD will play in the development of CRK as the region’s premier hub. We are equally excited to work on the new terminal building and revolutionize the travel experience of passengers and visitors through fast, efficient, hassle-free service.”
During the ceremony, Chungunco unveiled the new CRK logo and revealed that four more international airlines will start flying from Clark soon. She also announced that LIPAD has absorbed 179 former employees of the Clark International Airport Corp.
The airport has served 2.1 million international and domestic passengers during the first six months of the year. The figure is 63-percent bigger than that of the same period last year and so far the highest mid-year number of travelers in the airport’s 24-year history.
Some 11,500 passengers now fly via Clark daily, served by 673 weekly flights, 202 of them international and 471 domestic.
• Hit source of mislabeled inferior rebars
WITH earthquakes continuing to jolt various areas in the country, the integrity of high-rise buildings and the safety of tall condominiums continue to be a major concern, especially in the national capital region where lies the Marikina Valley fault system.
The question persists as to what government regulators have been doing to ensure that building standards and the quality of construction materials are strictly enforced.
The Department of Trade and Industry, for one, should be stricter in preventing the manufacture, sale and mislabeling of low-quality steel products used in tall structures, especially in crowded areas like Metro Manila.
The DTI has been reported as listing hardware stores selling grade 40 reinforcement steel bars (rebars) passed off as grade 60. The idea must be to let end-users know where not to buy quality rebars.
Aside from catching sellers of low quality products, the authorities should target the source, the manufacturers, and ensure that their products pass rigid testing and are correctly labelled. No firm should be so big or so well-connected as to be exempted.
Why focus on the hardware stores selling rebars without the Philippine National Standard certifications instead of tracking down who is supplying these outlets with the substandard products?
Going for the jugular, so to speak, is quicker and more effective than chasing after inferior products scattered in the market. Low-grade steel bars are still usable, but not for high-rise structures, and they should be properly labelled and their sale monitored.
This approach is similar to the waging of the drug war where the priority targets – assuming they have not been paying for protection — should be the drug lords, the suppliers. We do not kill an unwanted tree by pruning its branches but by digging out the roots.
An executive of a large steelmaker has been quoted as saying that hardware store owners sell inferior products because they are unaware of the standards, and that some do so because what is cheap and substandard sells faster.
He happens to be identified with a big steelmaker that has reportedly been able to avoid having its steel products undergo cyclic loading tests to measure their behavior while encased in concrete during an earthquake.
The DTI may want to check industry talk that one big steelmaker seems so confident that it reportedly replaces micro-alloyed (MA) with lower-quality quenched tempered (QT) steel bars without contractors, developers and end-users being aware of it.
Our Postscripts of June 30 and July 4 reported the findings of structural engineer Emilio Morales, former chair of the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines, on the dangers of using substandard steel products in high-rise condominiums and commercial buildings.
Morales said that during metallurgy tests, QT steel bars (compared with MA bars) failed during the first cycle of an earthquake. The steel of the QT bars was found to be strong only in its outer layer due to the quenching process.
He revealed that substandard materials, particularly rebars, are still being used in high-rise commercial buildings and residential condominiums. These rebars, we assume, were not procured from small hardware stores that DTI is targeting to investigate.