Palafox & Associates, the country's leading urban planner, will undertake the master-planning for the Poro Point Freeport Zone, which is being groomed as a gateway to the north.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel Paciano D. Casanova has signed the notice of award for the master-planning to Palafox.
The contract, which involves an updating of an already existing study, is worth P5 million. The project is expected to be completed before end this year.
Palafox bested the joint venture of UP Planades & Philippine Jac. Inc.; Schema Konsult, Inc.; the joint venture of CPRM Consultants, Inc. & Transport & Traffic Planners, Inc.; the joint venture of Filipinas Dravo Corp. & Key Engineers, Co.; Philipps Technical Consultants Corp.; and Palafox Associates.
The masterplan will identify areas of development for the zone, taking into consideration its existing port and airport facilities.
In particular, Palafox would come up with the feasibility study that would guide the BCDA in eventually privatizing the Freeport zone under private-public partnership. The privatization of the freeport zone could take place as early as next year.
The accessibility of the freeport will be further enhanced with the opening of phase one of the Tarlac-La Union-Pangasinan expressway (TPLEX) by August this year and full operational by next year, travelers going to the North need not go through Manila but would have access via three expressways: North Luzon expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway and TPLEX from Balintawak to Rosario in La Union.
Under the plan, the TPLEX will connect up until Baguio City. Phase 1 of TPLEX covers La Paz to Gerona towns in Tarlac.
With these road network, the attraction of Poro Point will be further enhanced.
The Aquino administration has identified Poro Point as a prime destination for tourists and investors citing its infrastructure and strategic location. Casanova has earlier cited Poro Point as an ideal springboard to Southeast Asia's major markets.
The San Fernando International Seaport and the San Fernando Airport make the Freeport more accessible. Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taipei are just an hour and 30 minutes away; Singapore, Japan and Korea are just three and a half hours away; while Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are just 4 hours away.