Central Luzon civic, religious and business leaders as well as local government executives have voiced their support for the call of the national leadership of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCII) for President Arroyo to create an active population control policy.
These leaders observed that economic and development efforts in Central Luzon were being overtaken by rapid population growth, which keep the people in the same dire condition even with tangible achievements in the local economy.
They have expressed alarm about the warning of PCCI that about 1.8 million Filipinos are added to the population every year and this disables the government’s capability to fully provide basic services to a nation of 84 million people.
Some business leaders and local government executives, specifically Gov. Mark T. Lapid of Pampanga, neophyte Rep. Anna York Bondoc of the Fourth District (who is still single), Rep. Rey B. Aqunio of the Third District, Blueboy Nepomuceno of the First District and Mikey Arroyo of the Second District and several other Pampanga mayors and religious leaders, have seen the need for an increase in the budget of the Department of Health and the Population Commission for wider and more effective info-education strategies and responsible parenthood.
PCCI sent a letter to the President offering to lead the private sector, through business organizations, in initiating solid assistance to families who want to learn and practice birth control.
The PCCI letter included as signatories some former Cabinet members, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, head of the Ayala Corp. conglomerate, and Oscar Lopez, chair of the Lopez Group of Companies.
“If the government cannot come up as yet with a dynamic and aggressive family planning policy, the private sector, through business organizations, can initiate solid assistance to those wanting to learn and practice family planning,” an Angeles City PCCI official said.
It is not necessary that the President endorse modern family planning methods openly, as long as she does not prevent private groups from dispensing information and medical assistance to those who wish to regulate their birth, she can stick to her option, Governor Lapid said.
Civic leader Romeo P. Yusi Sr. of Angeles City has challenged private organizations and cause-oriented groups to find merit in artificial birth control to work side by side with government health workers and exert parallel efforts to deliver legally and medically permissible methods, when available, especially to the poor.
Yusi agrees with some local government executives that business organizations and other private groups can help in the distribution of birth control devices, including contraceptives under health department supervision to those who cannot afford them.
The modern family planning system, if adopted nationwide and sustained for a number of years is the support blueprint for economic recovery and stability in the future,” Lapid said.
Now that the court has removed the stumbling for the establishment of the P2-billion SM Mega Mall project near the main gate of Clark Special Economic Zone, civic and business leaders as well as thousands of local citizens were hoping and praying that those opposing the project will now think or consider the benefits that it will give to the people of Angeles City and nearby communities.
The recent decision of the Angeles City Regional Trail Court (RTC) dismissed the petition of a private group to annul a contract between Clark Development Corp. and SM management for the establishment of a mega mall project.
Romy P. Yusi Sr., regional governor for Central Luzon of the PCCI, said that the RTC decision has been welcomed by business and civic leaders as well as local government executives in the region.
The establishment of the mega mall will pave the way for the generation of some 10,000 indirect and at least 2,000 job opportunities for residents of Angeles City and nearby communities and also the development of the 12-hectare Bayanihan Park near the Clark main gate into a world-class theme park. Central Prime Holdings of SM chain of malls has donated an initial funding of P50 million for the theme park project. It will be Angeles City’s first world-class park, according to the city Mayor Carmelo Lazatin and Dr. Emmanuel Y. Angeles, president and CEO of Clark Development Corp. (CDC).
Civic and business leaders and local government executives, including Mayor Marino Morales of Mabalacat, co-chair of the influential Metro Clark Advisory Council have criticized a cause-oriented group which has been opposing the establishment of the employment-generating SM Mega Mall near Clark main gate without justifiable reason. This opposing group has not lifted a finger against the recent establishment of the giant Robinsons Mall and Puregold mall also near the site of the opposed SM Mega Mall.
The 10,000-member National Constructors Association of the Philippines (Nacap) has reiterated its offer to President Arroyo to help in her nationwide housing project through a consortium of Japanese contractors.
Willy E. Castor, Nacap president, said that the association pledged to help the President realize her ambitious housing program. Castor recalled that shortly before the last national elections, a group of Japanese contractors offered to construct some one million low-cost housing units all over the country under a turnkey scheme.
Under the proposed turnkey arrangement, Castor explained that a Japanese group of constructors will construct housing units without any cost to the government. He added that once the initial batch of at least 1,000 housing units is constructed in designated housing projects, they would be distributed to beneficiaries through the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS). These two systems will then pay the Japanese contractors on a turn-key basis. Beneficiaries will then amortize the housing units through GSIS and SSS.
The group of Japanese contractors, according to Castor, has surveyed an area inside the Clark Special Economic subzone for the construction of a housing village for Japanese retirees and senior citizens desiring to spend the rest of their life in the country.
President Arroyo’s program of solving the country’s 3.5 million housing backlog, as announced by Vice President Noli de Castro in Pampanga last week, could find realization with the offer of the Japanese group of contractors, Castor said. He said that Nacap would make a formal reiteration to President Arroyo of the Japanese contractors’ offer participate in her administration’s housing program.
By Fred Roxas