LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6, 2016 — The construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Barangay Alobo, Daraga is seen to push through after 12 years of delay.
This, as President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to come to Albay to grace the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on December 8 as announced by Ako Bicol partylist Representative Alfredo “Pido” Garbin.
Garbin said the President will visit Albay to grace the launching of government programs and projects, one of them the groundbreaking ceremony.
Construction of the P4.8-billion BIA project has been delayed for over a decade after two former Presidents Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Mr. Benigno Aquino 111 failed to implement the project that was widely expected to spawn development in the Bicol region.
The BIA was a flagship project of Macapagal-Arroyo, which her administration upheld to boost tourism and economic growth not just in Bicol but in the entire Southern Luzon.
But the project did not take off after former Albay governor and now Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda abandoned Arroyo’s administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro in favor of Aquino during the 2010 presidential polls. Aquino was a classmate of Salceda in college.
The Aquino administration also promised to pursue the project as part of his pledge to the Bicolanos during the 2010 presidential elections. Again, it did not materialize due to the snail-paced release of its budget.
In June, following Mr. Duterte’s assumption in office, the Bicol representatives in Congress asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to hasten construction of the international airport. They blamed former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Emilio "Jun" Abaya for not prioritizing the project.
The Bicol legislators told DOTr further delay in the airport project will continue to hamper economic growth in the Bicol regon.
In May this year, the DOTC was reconstituted into two separate government agencies--DOTr and Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Construction of the international airport was first tackled and proposed at the Regional Development Council (RDC) during the term of Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara in the late 90’s up to early 2000. It was later pursued by Joey Salceda who became governor of the province after Bichara.
Bichara has assumed office as governor of Albay while Salceda is now second district representative of the province.
The RDC in Bicol, which is under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), is a key advisory body that promotes development in the region. It develops policy proposals on development issues affecting the countryside and serves as a liaison between commissions and relevant national government agencies.
When Bichara was elected Albay governor in May and subsequently voted as chairman of RDC here in Bicol he asked DOTr to revise the feasibility plan for the airport due to technical lapses which do not comply with international standards.
He said the feasibility study, which was poorly done, did not provide for adequate taxiways and has no provisions for a passengers’ tube. He said the study which was done by DOTC then was just “relocating the Legazpi airport facility to Daraga.” (PNA)