BCDA law amendment gets big House push

August 24, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 286 views

A measure that seeks to strengthen the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has been approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

With 231 votes, House Bill (HB) No. 8505 aims to amend certain provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 7227, the law that created BCDA.

The main purpose is for the BCDA to better manage former military bases and facilities like those in Subic, Clark, Baguio City, and Metro Manila.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the law, enacted in 1992, needs to be updated to enable the BCDA to effectively carry out its mandate of converting, managing or disposing of former military bases, which are valuable properties in their locations.

“The conversion of these assets is intended primarily for the benefit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the communities around them and the nation in general,” Romualdez said.

He said a large part of the proceeds from the sale of parts of military reservations in Metro Manila was allocated to the AFP modernization program.

The Speaker added that the development of the former American navy and air force bases in Subic in Zambales and Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga into special economic zones (SEZs) has benefited the communities around them, the local government units and the nation’ economy in general.

“We have airports in Clark and Subic. Subic also has a deep water port. With the necessary infrastructure, these two SEZs can be transformed into regional manufacturing and logistics hubs and tourist destinations. We have to maximize their potential,” the House leader stressed.

HB No. 8505 is a consolidation of two related measures authored by Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, both Representatives from Pampanga.

HB No. 8505 increases BCDA’s authorized capital from P100 billion to P400 billion, to be fully subscribed by the national government and funded by BCDA either in cash or property.

The measure provides that BCDA’s current term of 50 years shall be renewable for another 50 years and may be extended further by law.

It authorizes the conversion authority to “grant, donate or otherwise alienate by gratuitous title real properties to any government institution or agency to be devoted exclusively for public use.”

The bill also declares as “alienable and disposable” residential and residential mixed-use lands identified by BCDA in its master development plan for the economic zones.