After Salceda bolts LP, Bicol airport funding approved

Celso Amo, Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2016 - 10:00am

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – After Albay Gov. Joey Salceda dumped administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has approved the P780-million fund for the construction of the long-delayed Bicol International Airport.

“DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya called me up last Friday and said that the P780-million funding for the Bicol International Airport project has already been awarded,” Salceda bared.

The new funding will be used to complete a new ramp, as well as work on Phase 2 of the airport.

Salceda said work can start this coming Saturday.

“I really thank DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya for supporting the completion of the long-delayed international airport project,” said Salceda.

Last April 22, Salceda announced his break-up with LP and endorsed Roxas’ rival, presidential bet Sen. Grace Poe.

Salceda said he and Poe share the same set of values and goals for the country and that the senator has the necessary competence and a pure heart to lead the nation.

“I am Gov. Salceda and my president is Grace Poe. She shares our values of authentic humanism, shares our goals of countryside development and national competitiveness, and certainly her compassion will ensure that the impacts will be shared by all,” Salceda said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

There were reports that the lack of administration support for the completion of the Bicol International Airport and the recently held Palarong Pambansa, which forced Salceda to borrow P500 million to host the event, prompted the governor to shift his support from Roxas to Poe.

Albayanos had been expecting the early completion of the international airport as one of President Aquino’s private-public partnership projects.

Last Jan. 3, Salceda appealed to Abaya to hasten the awarding of Package 2A of the Bicol International Airport project in Barangay Alobo in Daraga, Albay.

Despite the availability of funds, the biggest and most strategic infrastructure project in Bicol has not been built.

In a letter to Abaya dated Feb. 1, Salceda said the airport’s phase 2A was bidded out by the DOTC last Dec. 8, 2015.

However, almost two months later, the project has yet to be awarded to the winning bidder.

Salceda said over 20 percent of flights to the Legazpi City airport are cancelled due to bad weather.

“Travel using the Bicol International Airport is cheaper by 20 to 30 percent, making it very affordable,” said Salceda, adding that tourists going to Bicol could avoid the inconvenience and congestion in the old airport.

Salceda said the new international airport could be a catchment area for some 8.1 million tourists.

“This is the only international airport that is located south of Metro Manila,” said Salceda. He said going north there is Subic, Clark, San Fernando and Laoag.

He said the Bicol airport could position Albay for more growth.

Salceda said Poe and his vice presidential candidate, Sen. Francis Escudero, support the early completion of big-ticket projects in Albay, such as the international airport and the South Rail project that would reach Matnog, Sorsogon.

Salceda also vowed to deliver a significant number of votes to the tandem of Poe and Escudero from the Bicol region.

He welcomed Poe and Escudero in Albay yesterday as he recalled how the province gave President Aquino and the Liberal Party candidates the second largest percentage of votes in the country during the 2010 elections.

“We are in a way a barometer. I will do everything that I can to exceed the target of 44 percent of Albay, given that the race is very tight,” said Salceda, once an economic adviser of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

After Salceda, the governors of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Catanduanes have also declared their support to Poe. – With Marvin Sy            

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