10 August 2016

Batangas Port, Fernando Air Base Expansion, Batangas-Calamba Rail Proposed

Image credit:  Google Street View.

A TV Patrol Southern Tagalog item on its 9 August 2016 show reported that talks have started between Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Arthur Tugade and Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas regarding the construction of Phase 3 and 4 of the Batangas City Port, as suggested by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

This will pave the way for the transfer of domestic shipping from Manila’s North Harbour to the Batangas Port. Mandanas, speaking to the TV Patrol reporter, said, “Kelangan ito (para) ma-decongest ang Metro Manila. Malapit ‘yung mga export zones natin. Hindi lang sa Batangas; pati ‘yung Cavite at Laguna. Wala tayo ditong truck ban.” (This is necessary to decongest Metro Manila. The port is close to the export zones, not just in Batangas but also the ones in Cavite and Laguna. Here, we don’t have a truck ban.)

Mandanas, the report said, also stated that also being planned are the expansion of Fernando Air Base in Lipa City and the construction of a railroad system from Batangas City to Calamba City.

The report did not elaborate, but the ‘expansion of Fernando Air Base’ probably refers to a project that Mandanas himself had already filed in Congress when he was still in the House of Representatives as House Bill 4176. The bill called for the conversion of the base, which is on government-owned land, into a ‘dual use’ airport.

In other words, part of the base according to the bill is to be converted into an auxiliary facility that can accommodate flights diverted from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The land will continue to be under the Philippine Air Force, but the currently idle parts are to be put to productive use as stipulated by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The revival of the Batangas City to Calamba railway line, meanwhile, was something that was mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte himself during a press conference before his inauguration to the nation’s highest office. There has been talk of this project as far back as the Fidel Ramos presidency, and if finally implemented will give BatangueƱos an alternative mode of transport not only to Calamba but Metro Manila.

While being interviewed by the TV Patrol Southern Tagalog reporter, Mandanas appeared to disclose that the projects are to be executed by the Provincial Government. “Kami na ang gagastos, kami na ang magfa-fund, kami na ang mago-operate,” he said. (We will do the spending, we will provide the funds and we will operate them.) “Nasa Local Government Code naman yan,” he added. (This is contained in the Local Government Code.)

The projects, the reporter concluded, are expected to be approved before the end of the week.

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