Monday, July 1, 2013

Sangley Point International Airport Proposal Receives Mixed Reviews

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works is throwing his support behind the proposed redevelopment plan of Sangley Point which will pave the way for a new international airport and seaport to serve the capital city. 

Image Source: All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.
Senator Ramon Revillia Jr would like to see the naval bases currently stationed at Sangley Point be relocated and consolidated with the other naval camp in the coastal town of Ternate. Revilla called upon President Aquino once again to act on the redevelopment proposal for Sangley Point. "MalacaƱang should consider this," said Revilla. "This will be a big factor for Cavite. There is still a portion composed of about 100 to 200 hectares which can be developed for the international airport and seaport at Sangley." Revillia, a former governor of Cavite, believes that the plans will move forward as there is a strong need to decongest operations at the existing airport in Pasay. 

Plans for the airport at Sangley have existed since 2001 but have remained on the shelf due to the lack of support from the private sector and government until just recently when William Tieng, chairman of the Solar Group, announced that he was leading a consortium interested in redeveloping the area as the country's newest international gateway. According to Tieng, his foreign partners are bullish about the Philippines and the development opportunities that exist particularly with respect to this new international gateway. He reaffirmed the need for an international gateway that would be responsive to the nation's booming economy and thriving tourist industry. 

The consortium known as All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corporation represents a number of foreign partners based in Europe in countries like Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. One of the partners based in Germany is Flugfahen Munich, the operator of the Munich Airport. "These foreign business entities have expressed in writing their firm commitment to participate in these modern and major job generating projects," Tieng said.

The proposed redevelopment of the former US naval station and current Philippine naval facility calls for the development of what will be known as the Aquino-Sangley International Airport and the Aguinaldo-Sangley International Seaport. In short, Sangley Point in Cavite City will be converted into an international logistics hub featuring a modern international airport and seaport by enabling a reclamation component. The vision behind the concept is to position the Philippines at the forefront of international trade development. 

Aquino Sangley Airport
Image Source: All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.

A Premier International Airport Gateway

Construction of the airport project would be estimated to run from 2014 to 2018. Highlights include:
  • Reclamation of 2,500 hectares along the flight line at Atienza Air Base
  • Development of a terminal capable of handling 50 million passengers annually
  • A dual runway system estimated to cost more than P100 billion
The proposed terminal is based on demand driven data that highlights the current traffic flow at the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport which currently stands at 31 million passengers per year. Passenger traffic from 2011 to 2012 grew by more than 6 percent with the domestic market accounting for more than half of the passenger traffic. 

ninoy aquino international airport
Image Source: All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.
The redevelopment of the NAIA complex has also been proposed which would include the relocation of naval activity at Atienza Air Base to Villamore Air Base and NAIA Terminal 1 being converted into a "greenbelt mixed residential area" between 2020 and 2025. 

The consortium believes that its proposed airport is a better alternative than developing Clark International Airport as the adjacent areas and approaches to the airport are primarily over water and would permit the airport to operate on a 24 hour basis. Additional space would also be available at Sangley for a third runway if necessary - a feature that is not an option at Clark anymore. The consortium advocates that the development of Sangley is a long term strategic outlook that is driven by logic and not politics. 

An International Seaport

The Aguinaldo-Sangley International Seaport would require a 50 hectare reclamation offshore of the Atienza Air Base. Highlights would include a proposed 200 million litre capacity bulk liquid port that would satisfy demand currently based on the existing activities at Pandacan Depot in Manila which supplies 70 percent of the shipping industry's needs including 75 percent of all aviation fuels. 

Aguinaldo-Sangley International Seaport
Image Source: All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.

Light Rail Component

The Seaport and Airport project would trigger the development of a 17 kilometre Sangley-Cavite rail link that would connect the new projects to the NAIA complex. A 32.5 kilometre Aguinaldo Light Rail Transit line would also be constructed to connect to the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 at Taft Station. Finally, an 8 kilomtetre four lane cable bridge would be developed to link the twin projects to Boulevard 2000. 

Image Source: All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.
Officials including Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya were briefed by consortium executives last March. In April, the consortium committed to complete feasibility studies within six to eight months pending approval of the reservation for the right to reclaim in the designated areas.

While the project has its advocates and supporters, not everyone believes this is the right direction for the country to go in. The Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement, a local advocacy group that supports the development of Clark International Airport, says that politicians are about to sabotage the development of the Clark Airport. 

Ruperto Cruz, Chairman of the advocacy group, believes that if the development was to push through, it would only be a matter of time until a fatal accident was to happen as the Sangley Airport would operate simultaneously within a restricted airspace with Ninoy Aquino International Airport. "The Sangley Point proposal is flawed from the very start considering its position and the reality of climate change and global warming," said Cruz. "The flooding in the metropolis caused by Typhoon Ondoy and the flash flooding are wake up calls that we must heed." He added that it is obvious that an airport built from the sea is dangerous in that land reclamation causes habitat destruction which in many countries is no longer allowed due to climate change and global warming. 

Fishermen in the province of Cavite have also voiced their concerns to President Aquino about the project citing that the massive land reclamation required would send the fishing villages of Noveleta, Bacoor, Kawit, Rosario, and Cavite City to the "death bed of environmental catastrophe and destruction." Myrna Candinato, representative of the fishermen, stated that the reclamation plan will kill the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishermen and other people dependent on Cavite's fishing for their day to day survival. 

She added that the Aquino administration must consider better ways to address the issues of poverty and hunger in the fishing communities of Cavite. Others critics have suggested that 26,000 fishing families from Bacoor to Cavite City would be displaced from their sources of livelihood by the proposed project. That figure represents roughly 156,000 people. 

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