CLARK FREEPORT—A change in culture and increase in revenues are what Arthur Tugade, the man President Benigno Aquino appointed president and chief executive officer of Clark Development Corp. (CDC), is bringing into the agency that is turning this former American military base into an economic engine.
“My overriding aim is to cultivate good values, change the ways of doing things within the CDC,” Tugade tells SundayBiz.
The two thrusts fit right into the President’s campaign promise of treading the “daang matuwid” (righteous path), he says.
He asks CDC officials and employees to “smile genuinely and sincerely, be punctual, refrain from receiving or getting gifts, hold meetings before and after work hours, and avoid having dinners with locators and applicants.”
In his case, his staff are getting used to seeing guests bringing gifts and taking home their own gifts.
In expecting a new behavior, Tugade says he was not shooting for the moon. More than 300 employees of the 10 companies he founded under Perry’s Group of Companies proved this is doable, he says.
So even at 67, he is still filled with idealism.
“This is my first job in government and it is amusingly challenging,” Tugade says.
“I agreed to serve in the government because I believed in the President. I will try my best. I’m not a thief,” he says.
At first, he did not like the idea of working for CDC because he thought that the interests of Perry’s Group in logistics would be in conflict with the agency. He only agreed to be at the helm of CDC when he was told that it was a separate entity from Clark International Airport Corp., which oversees logistics investments.
He says the order he got from the President was to do his job in the way he wants it to be and stay away from corruption.
So Tugade asked for a copy of CDC’s audited statement and its profit-and-loss report. He has been working on this since last month when he took his oath.
“It’s difficult but not hopeless,” he says of his assessment of CDC’s financial status.
“The revenues [from land leases] are on a plateau [because the available lands for development now are few] while the expenses are going high,” he says.
He has revamped the security department and set up a special administrative committee with the Clark Investors and Locators Association sitting as an observer.
The board has also approved the extension of the certificate of tax exemptions (CRTE) to three years. The CRTE, which is used to honor the privilege of 5 percent tax on gross income, is valid for only a year.
Extending the CRTE’s validity saves locators time to process documents, Tugade says.
Several CDC officials followed Tugade’s example of doing sacrifices by surrendering benefits, which saved the CDC P2 million. The amount is going to be used to add to the shuttle services of employees.
Tugade’s policy with employees expecting a new collective bargaining agreement is “to continue the dialogue … and settle the matter within the operations of law and decisions of the government.”
The privatization of the management of Mimosa Leisure Estate, which was taken over by CDC in 1998 due to debts, is still being studied.
Locators who have been delinquent in paying leases will be “thrown out within the confines of the law.”
Tugade was born in Claveria, Cagayan. His parents, both employees of the public works department, moved to Sampaloc, Manila, when he was in grade school.
When their shanty in Sampaloc was gutted by fire, the family transferred to a slum area in Tatalon, Quezon City where, as he recalls, his toilet was a “hole in the ground where after the floods, vegetables grew.”
Priests in San Beda College helped him get an education through scholarships and jobs in the same school, enabling him to finish law.
He co-founded the Transnational Group of Companies and retired 10 years ago because of the need to slow down.
Nursing himself back to good health after a colon problem, Tugade established the Perry’s Group of Companies. Under it are the Trans-Global Consolidator’s Inc. (said to be the first and only formal Philippine consolidator in the airfreight and sea freight business), APT Travels Inc., Trans-Global Trucking Inc., Perry’s Fuel Distribution Inc., Fizzfashion Mercantile and Trading Inc., Perry’s Foundation, Perry’s Technologies Inc., Perry’s Farms Inc. and the sales and importing agency Perryome. Perry is the name of his son who passed away, a story he prefers to tell another time.