Clark exec unaware of military plans for former US air facility | Inquirer News

Clark exec unaware of military plans for former US air facility

/ 03:05 AM July 03, 2013

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—With the commercial development of Clark International Airport (CRK), it is not likely that the facility is being prepared or reserved for military use by the Philippines or the United States, an airport official said.

“There are no discussions at all,” Victor Jose Luciano, president and chief executive of Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), said when asked on the reuse of CRK as a military airport amid heated disputes between China and its neighbors in Southeast Asia over territory in the West Philippine Sea.


The CRK, which spans some 2,500 hectares, used to be a facility of the US Air Force until 1991 when the Philippine Senate rejected the extension of the 1947 Philippine-US Military Bases Agreement. It used to be the biggest military airport outside the US mainland and served as launching pads for US wars in the Asia-Pacific region.

Even the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, former US Senate president pro tempore and chairman of the committee on appropriations, and Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi did not tackle the military functions of CRK during a quick tour here in April 2012, Luciano said.


The two observed the transformation of Clark and the former Subic Naval Base in Zambales into productive civilian use, he said. Clark and Subic are linked by the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

Since 1999, American and Filipino troops have been holding joint exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement, using Clark and Subic as among the entry points, for drills or rest and recreation.

Some groups have undermined the capability of the CRK to be the alternative site of Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to an absence of a modern railway system to connect these facilities that are 80 kilometers apart.

CRK taking off

Luciano said the operations of budget and regular airlines, as well as the entry of Emirates and Qatar Airways on Oct. 1 and Oct. 28, respectively, proved that “CRK is taking off.”

Qatar Airways will serve the Doha-Clark-Doha route and expand to other destinations, he said.

The matter of giving the United States wider access to Clark and other Philippine Air Force (PAF) bases has not been discussed with the PAF, according to Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesman. Aside from the Air Force City in Clark, the PAF has bases in Pampanga, Batangas, Pasay City, Cebu, Palawan and Zamboanga.


Pampanga Rep. Joseller Guiao has filed a bill seeking the conversion of CIAC and Clark Development Corp. into authorities and empowering them to sustain the development of the former military facilities.

The mayors of the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat, which are near Clark, rejected the idea of allowing the United States again to operate and maintain permanent bases in the country.

Clark could better help in the development of local communities and Central Luzon if authorities, instead of corporations, run the bases conversion bodies, said Angeles Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan and Mabacalat Mayor Marino Morales.

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TAGS: Clark International Airport (CRK), Military, Philippines, Victor Jose Luciano
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