VOTING 231 against three and zero abstention, the House of Representatives passed Tuesday night on third and final reading a bill seeking to strengthen the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) so it can better manage former military bases and facilities like those in Subic, Clark, Baguio City, and Metro Manila.
House Bill (HB) No. 8505 would amend certain provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 7227, the law that created BCDA.
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,” Speaker Romualdez, head of the 311-member House of Representatives, 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’s 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. Gonzales represents Pampanga’s third district, while Arroyo is the second district’s representative.
Other principal authors of the measure are Reps. Faustino Dy, Ricardo Cruz Jr., Ramon Jolo Revilla, Maria Angela Garcia, Jefferson Khonghun, Mark Go, Noel Rivera, Juan Carlos Atayde, Francisco Paolo Ortega V, Christopher de Venecia , Emigdio Tanjuatco III, Reynolds Michael Tan, Wilbert Lee, Christian Tell Yap, Jam Baronda, and Manuel Jose Dalipe.
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.
However, the areas to be classified as alienable and disposable shall not be more than five percent of the total area of each economic zone.
The proposed law allows the BCDA to sell these alienable and disposable lands, the proceeds from which shall accrue to the agency.
The conversion authority is required to submit periodic updates to the Office of the President every three years on the disposition of residential and residential mixed-use lands.