In Clark, no work stoppage amid Asean meet
CLARK FREEPORT — The Philippines’ hosting of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit has not disrupted businesses in this 4,500-hectare economic zone.
No company needed to close in spite of the three-day nonworking holiday declared by President Duterte in Metro Manila and Bulacan and Pampanga provinces for the duration of the event, which ends today.
“It will be business as usual [up to Nov. 15],” said Noel Manankil, president of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), the state-owned firm that oversees the free port.
More than 930 companies employing more than 107,000 workers in Clark continued production, among them the Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc. (YTPI).
The firm’s 2,000 employees had to be paid an additional 30 percent on each day of the three-day work holiday, said Angelina Casasola, YTPI vice president for administration.
Japanese manufacturer Nanox Philippines, Sutherland Global Services Philippines Inc., IQOR Philippines Inc., Luen Thai International Philippines Inc., YTPI, SMK Electronics Phils. Corp., Coronation Premium Manufacturing Inc., Global Gateway Clark and Phoenix Semiconductor Phils. Corp. are among the top employers in Clark.
Clark served as a gateway for world leaders who landed at Clark International Airport last weekend. Clark also hosted a welcome dinner and provided venues for at least three Asean Summit-related meetings.
More than 11,000 security personnel were deployed for the Clark leg of the Asean Summit.
“There was very minor disruption,” said Manankil when convoys of delegates drove to Metro Manila through a dedicated Asean lane on the North Luzon Expressway.
Security is expected to ease today as leaders who arrived in Clark are departing via Ninoy Aquino International Airport. “We were able to show that Clark International Airport is at par with the other airports here and abroad. We can accommodate various types of aircraft,” said Alexander Cauguiran, president of the Clark International Airport Corp.
Most workers avoided the Asean activities here by taking the Mabalacat gate of the ecozone to get to work on time.
CDC had built the Clark-Angeles-Mabalacat Road as an alternative to MacArthur Highway less than a year before the summit. The Mitchell Highway and other major roads were widened.
Clark exports reached $6.38 billion or 64 percent of the total $9.979-billion export in Central Luzon in 2015, according to data from the Department of Trade and Industry. —Tonette Orejas
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