By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

TOWARDS DEVELOPMENT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the inspection of the Airport to New Clark City Access Road (ANAR) at the Sacobia Bridge located within the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone in Pampanga on Wednesday (Feb. 21, 2024). In his speech, Marcos vowed that the government would continue to pursue “world-class” infrastructure projects to attract more investments. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – The government will work hard to build a “world-class” infrastructure that can drive prosperity for present and prospective investors in the Philippines, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.

Marcos gave the assurance, as he led the inspection of the Airport to New Clark City Access Road (ANAR) at the Sacobia Bridge located within the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone in Pampanga.

He said the ANAR project is a “part of a larger package of Build Better More” activities that will help expand the Clark metropolis’ profile in the global investment map.

“Project such as this all convey one message to prospective investors: It conveys the message that we are committed to building world-class infrastructure that can host a business in a high-growth area,” Marcos said.

“The government is ready to provide adequate infrastructure and facilities to ensure the growth of their future investment,” he added.

Marcos directed the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to ensure the completion of the remaining works for the 20-kilometer ANAR Project.

Citing the BCDA’s track record, Marcos expressed confidence that the agency would follow relevant procurement rules, laws, and regulations.

“The BCDA has a major role to play in the Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines) vision that all Filipinos are working hard to achieve,” he said.

“Your contribution to Bagong Pilipinas goes beyond your physical inventory of projects delivered, planned, and being built. The BCDA’s contribution to the Bagong Pilipinas would also include a culture of excellence, of innovation, of foresight, and of industry.”

The 20-kilometer ANAR Project, with a total cost of PHP8.42 billion, serves as a dedicated access road to enhance connectivity across Luzon, revolutionizing travel and trade between Central and Northern Luzon, Metro Manila, and Clark International Airport.

The project includes a 900-meter bridge over the Sacobia River in Bamban, Tarlac that showcases both engineering prowess and environmental sensitivity.

It aims to ease traffic congestion and spur economic growth by improving travel efficiency across Luzon, connecting major urban centers and transportation hubs, ultimately reducing travel time from New Clark City to Clark from one hour to 20 minutes, and fostering progress in surrounding areas.

BCDA president and chief executive officer engineer Joshua Bingcang said the ANAR “is a tangible embodiment of the Bagong Pilipinas vision – a Philippines that is progressive, sustainable, and brimming with cultural pride.”

“Every step across the Sacobia Bridge symbolizes a step forward towards a brighter future. It represents the BCDA’s unwavering commitment to principled governance, accountability, and dependability. We stand together with the government, and the President, united in our pursuit of this common objective: to realize the dreams and aspirations of every Filipino,” he said.

BCDA chairman Delfin Lorenzana said: “The ANAR will unravel the immense potential of Clark, turning this 32,000-hectare corridor into a new economic epicenter that promises inclusive and sustainable growth for all. This is a prime example of what the Marcos administration wants to achieve through aggressive infrastructure buildup under the Build Better More program.”

Marcos said unlocking Clark’s full potential is a “continuing task” to ensure the success of his administration’s Build Better More Program.

He added that the government aims to make Clark “an alternative growth area,” considering its ability to accommodate a wide range of economic activities and its position being “in the heartland of an agricultural powerhouse.”

“In short, the Clark metropolis has what it takes to be a mecca for tourists, a magnet of investments, and a market of goods and services. We must leverage these attributes into higher visitor traffic, attracting more investments that generate better jobs and spur economic activity,” Marcos said.

The implementation of infrastructure projects under the Build Better More program is in line with the Marcos administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2023-2027.

Meanwhile, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap thanked the national government for opening doors of economic opportunities for Tarlac not only to the people but also to investors that would bring both tourism and economic growth to the area. (With a report from Marna Dagumboy-del Rosario/PNA)