By Ding Cervantes, August 14 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga  , Philippines  —   New Clark City is ready to become the seat of the national government by 2030, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said yesterday, as it backed a Senate proposal seeking to make the move in a bid to decongest Metro Manila and propel sustainable growth.

“BCDA supports Senator (Sherwin) Gatchalian’s proposal to start the move of government agencies from Metro Manila to New Clark City. This initiative will not only solve Manila’s congestion problems, but will also create opportunities in Central Luzon and nearby regions,” said BCDA president and CEO Vince Dizon.

“This initiative should be done in phases but it needs to be started now,” Dizon stressed.

Dizon said BCDA and its partner infrastructure developer MTD Clark Inc. are scheduled to finish New Clark City Phase 1A or the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) by the end of this month.

New Clark City is envisioned to be the country’s first smart, green and resilient metropolis. The central office of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was moved here last year.

Under Gatchalian’s proposal, also known as the “Kabisera 2030,” the NGAC will be the location of the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President, and all central offices of national government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations. It proposes the permanent seat of the national government to be fully transferred by 2030.

Gatchalian pointed out that some countries had also transferred their respective seats of government to other locations, as in the case of Malaysia which considers Putrajaya as its administrative capital.

He noted that Metro Manila, with 12.88 million residents as of 2015, has a population density of 20,785 persons per square kilometer, a figure higher than Mumbai, Paris and Tokyo.

A study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showed that the economic cost of transportation in Metro Manila has risen to P3.5 billion pesos a day in 2018.

The study added that economic losses due to chronic gridlocks in Metro Manila may shoot up to P5.4 billion daily by 2035.

Gatchalian said that aside from easing congestion in the metro, the move to New Clark City will spread economic development, generate jobs for Filipinos, and help achieve sustainable growth.

“It is my fervent hope that by establishing a new administrative center at a new location like New Clark City, the opportunities to have a well-planned urban center with modern facilities and technology to enhance government efficiency and productivity will be boundless,” the senator added.

The NGAC includes world-class sports facilities which will be used in this year’s SEA Games, the Integrated Disaster Response Operations Center, government housing and a river park.

Recently, BCDA and MTD signed a memorandum of agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines Leasing and Finance Corp. (LLFC) to establish leasing and financing facilities for government agencies intending to locate in New Clark City.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is also pushing for the creation of a government hub in New Clark City, citing the efficient delivery of services.