Airports as catalysts
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2018 - 12:00am

Airports are known catalysts for local economic development. The presence of a local airport is sure to bring in more tourists, employment, and increased business activities.

Camarines Sur is, therefore, “blessed” to have not one, but two airports.

There is an existing one in Pili town, the Naga Airport, whose upgrade has been identified as a priority project of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Then there is a proposed second one in San Jose town.

The CamSur provincial government has been overseeing the implementation of the Naga Airport Development Project (NADP) on the strength of a memorandum of agreement signed with the Department of Transportation in November 2016. Financing for the airport upgrade project will be taken from DOTr’s budget and includes funds for the acquisition of the lots of the affected residents and their resettlement.

The provincial government has been tasked under the MOA to identify the affected residents, to supervise the purchase of their lots, and to take care of their resettlement.

According to the MOA, the development of airports has been included among the priority projects of the national government and this includes the development and re-orientation of Naga Airport to serve the Metro Naga and the province of Camarines Sur including its influence area.

Unfortunately, there has been some opposition to the modernization of the Naga Airport. CamSur First District Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who belong to the President’s political party PDP-Laban, is among those opposing it.

Local business leaders are wondering why anybody would oppose a project that could reenergize CamSur’s economy and bring in more tourists to the province, not to mention that this project is included in President Duterte’s Build Build Build program.

The STAR was among several media outfits which reported about a shouting match between Andaya and fellow CamSur Rep. LRay Villafuerte at a police station in Pili town. The video of the encounter between the two went viral.

Several members of the CamSur’s Sagip Kalikasan Task Force (SKTF) have filed complaints against Andaya and his bodyguards after allegedly being roughhoused while they were doing clearing operations for the Naga Airport expansion project.

Andaya claims he was just helping CamSur residents whose properties would be affected by the project.

LRay, meanwhile, reportedly rushed to the station upon learning of the incident at the project site involving several of his former employees at the provincial capitol when he was still CamSur governor.

Villafuerte has recently written the President, through Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, asking that the budget allocation for the San Jose Airport be reconsidered since the project has no basis, not to mention the fact that the proposed airport is only 30 to 40 kilometers away from the existing one in Pili.

Pili belongs to the third district, so CamSur residents were wondering why Andaya went to the airport project site to stop workers from proceeding with the clearing operations.

Andaya is a member of PDP-Laban, so he was expected to support the Naga Airport modernization project.

Meanwhile, in a resolution dated May 2, the Pili Regional Trial Court Branch 32 had directed the provincial government headed by Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte to stop the implementation of the writ of possession which the court earlier issued against the farmers, saying the CamSur provincial government is not the proper party to pursue the acquisition of the lands, and instead, it should be the Office of the Solicitor General since it is a national government project.

But according to Rep. Villafuerte, the ruling is a victory for ?the people of C?amS?ur because it affirms that the Naga Airport project will continue and, ?more importantly, be put on the fast track. He expects that after the complaint is amended under the Office of the Solicitor General, the writ will be reinstated and it will fast-track the airport project.

In an interview with a local radio station, Presidential Adviser on Bicol Affairs Undersecretary Marvel Clavecilla has come to the project’s defense as he criticized local politicians who are using farmers, whose lands were expropriated for the Naga Airport Expansion Project, to advance their own political agenda.

He said in the interview that the urgency for the government to fast-track the facility upgrade is in pursuit of the President’s Build Build Build program.

Clavecilla said that in opposing the project’s implementation, the protesters were actually hampering the development of CamSur and the entire Bicol region.

He added the improvement of Naga Airport was given the go-ahead after going through a fair legal procedure, and what the Duterte administration wants now is to hasten the process to finally uplift the quality of life in CamSur.


Xend is a local courier service company that has made its mark, especially among online merchants and buyers, because of its low rates and convenience that it offers, especially since sellers have the option to have their items picked up from their place.

Xend’s CEO Bjorn Pardo recently sent me an e-mail, which I was able to browse over. But before I can read the message in its entirety, I accidentally deleted it and could not retrieve it anymore. So I hope he can resend his e-mail.

The e-mail was actually in connection with an article I wrote, which mentioned the rates being charged by smaller courier services like Xend, Fastrack, Lalamove (they are smaller, compared to LBC, JRS Express or Air 21). And then I also mentioned that there are mounting complaints against some small courier services because of lost packages, the absence of licenses and permits, lack of insurance coverage, among others.

According to Pardo, Xend was being lumped together with the group of smaller courier services and there might be some misconception that the company was among those subject of the complaints. He said they have the necessary licenses and added that even the so-called bigger companies had their share of lost packages. He said their shipments are insured, and according to one online article, Xend is the first and only courier to offer free insurance worth P2,000 for all domestic-bound and $100 for all international-bound packages.

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