By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce (PCCI) sees Bulacan province, which is just 24 kilometers away from Manila, as the next growth area and viable business destination for investors with the completion of three major infrastructure projects in the next five years.
Observing that the northern part of the National Capital Region has lagged behind the southern part in terms of attracting investments, Alegria Sibal Limjoco, President of PCCI, said exciting developments in infrastructure such as the Skyway 3, MRT-7, Bulacan Bulkwater project and the proposal to construct an international aerotropolis or a metropolis revolving around a new international airport in Bulacan will spur development in this area.
“Among our members, Bulacan province is high on the list of our new business locations for consideration. It is adjacent to Metro Manila, the land costs are still low compared to Metro Manila, and there is adequate labor and ongoing construction of vital infrastructure,” Limjoco said.
For his part, PCCI Chairman Emeritus Dr. Francis Chua said investors should start considering Central Luzon as a new location for their businesses in line with the government’s long-term plan to decongest Metro Manila and spread business and job opportunities outside of Metro Manila to benefit those residing in the adjoining provinces.
“Other than proximity to Metro Manila, affordable land costs and adequate labor, investors are always on the lookout for provinces that are very aggressive in terms of infrastructure and there’s a consensus among our members that Bulacan is the next growth area,” he added.
The Metro Manila Skyway (MMS) or the Skyway 3 Project is a 14.82-kilometer elevated toll road is slated for completion in 2019. It will connect the South Luzon Expressway at Alabang to Balintawak in Quezon City leading to the North Luzon Expressway, a major road leading to Bulacan province.
According to official Public- Private Partnership (PPP) Center records, the said project is 41.627 percent complete as of May 2018.
The Skyway Stage 3 will bypass the congested road network in Metro Manila and ensure the seamless flow of goods and services from South Luzon to North Luzon, which includes the province of Bulacan.
“We are very excited with the Skyway Stage 3 project especially with the usual travel time for our deliveries from Metro Manila and South Luzon to be cut considerably for business locators in Bulacan and other areas in Luzon. That means lesser business costs,” Chua explained as the toll road will also reduce vehicle traffic in EDSA and the C5 roads and benefit motorists as well.
He also mentioned the P62.7-billion MRT-7 project, set for completion in 2020, should also be a factor in investors’ decision as employees from Metro Manila may even opt to work or relocate in Bulacan province instead to take advantage of lower cost of living.
Chua also cited the P24.41-billion Bulacan Bulkwater Project that will bring treated bulk water to meet the demands of Bulacan residents and benefit business establishments as well. PPP records show that the project is 75.93 percent complete as of June 30 this year.
He added that the PCCI is also closely monitoring the progress of the proposed New Manila International Airport (NMIA) of San Miguel Corporation. The P735-billion airport project was approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) in April this year.
ICC-CabCom-approved projects are elevated to the NEDA, which is chaired by the President.
The San Miguel-proposed airport will feature a modern terminal, four runways with a provision for two more in the future, a road network, connection to MRT and a ferry services.