Central Luzon dev’t bill passes on 3rd reading

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Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway

THE SENATE on Monday passed on third and final reading a bill creating the Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub (RICH) of Central Luzon, which seeks to generate jobs and attract capital to the region.

Senate Bill No. 1997 was approved with 18 affirmative votes, no negative votes, and zero abstentions. It was authored and sponsored by Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the committee on government corporations and public enterprises. It was co-authored by Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

“The name of the bill reflects its aim to enrich the people by encouraging and promoting investments and infrastructure in Central Luzon, as well as addressing bottlenecks, laying the foundation for long-term growth in the region, creating jobs and improving the quality of life of Filipinos,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement.

Under the proposed measure, RICH will replace the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCAD). It was SCAD’s task to harmonize business and economic policy as well as to attract investment to the region.

The proposed hub’s board of directors will have nine members, including the heads of economic zones based in the region.

Mr. Gordon said the bill also seeks to maximize the infrastructure of Central Luzon, such as the Subic and Mariveles seaports, North Luzon Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

One of the goals of the bill is to help decongest Metro Manila by “dispersing industries and population to Central Luzon,” he added.

Its counterparts measure in the House of Representatives remained pending in the committee on government enterprises and privatization. — Camille A. Aguinaldo