Friday, December 8, 2017

VP Leni blasts Sec. Tugade on Naga Airport

BICOL STANDARD Photo
NAGA CITY 12/8/17 (Bicol Standard) – Vice President Leni Robredo lashed at the Department of Transportation this morning for not including the Naga Airport in the 2017 and 2018 budget, and conversely including a new airport that will be constructed in San Jose, Camarines Sur.

“We have been trying to communicate with Sec. Tugade for weeks, but have not been able to secure an appointment to discuss the matter,” Robredo stressed.

In a press conference here this morning, Robredo blasted what she called a “surreptitious” planning of the San Jose Airport that did not go through the proper procedure of being studied the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

She explained that in 2013, the DOTC commissioned a feasibility study to examine the improvement of the Naga Airport located in San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur.

Among the seven options examined in the study were: (1) the relocation of the Naga Airport to Libmanan, Camarines Sur, (2) the relocation of the Naga Airport to Ocampo, Camarines Sur, (3) the relocation of the Naga Airport to San Jose, Camarines Sur, (4) North South reorientation of the existing Naga Airport, (5) Southeast Northwest Reorientation of Naga Airport, (6) extension of the Naga Airport and (7) an upgrade of the Naga Airport.

The feasibility study recommended option 5, the Southeast Northwest Reorientation of Naga Airport.

She added that the study emphasized that there should only be one airport in Camarines Sur, “so that the full benefits would be reaped,” she said.

The same was submitted to the RDC and the NEDA. In 2015, the Naga Airport reorientation got an allocation of P670 million, and in 2016, P1 billion.

To her surprise, however, Robredo said there was no more budget in 2017 and 2018 for the Naga Airport, and instead there is budget for an airport in San Jose, Camarines Sur.

“Two airports only forty minutes apart would not be beneficial for the province,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Robredo said she wanted to ask Tugade if the Naga Airport project would be discontinued due to this new development.

“Unfortunately, our attempts to secure an appointment with him have been proving futile for the past few weeks,” she said.

Robredo added that Catanduanes solon and chair of the House Committee on Transportation Cesar Sarmiento was also surprised by the report.

PNR

Meanwhile, Robredo declared that the recent PNR forum in which former Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez was present left more questions than answers.

Among these was why the option of Official Development Assistance (ODA) was selected over PPP Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

In her opinion, PPP would be the more advantageous choice, as it means the government would not spend for the project, instead of borrowing from a foreign entity.

She also did not understand why China was chosen as such foreign partner when it offered a higher interest of 2% over Japan’s 0.5%.

Another forum, she said, would possibly shed light on these issues.

Joint statement

Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado, who was seated next to Robredo during the press conference, urged the local government units, Naga City and Camarines Sur Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the media, to come up with a joint statement to appeal to the authorities to seek answers on why the PNR and the Naga Airport are not given the due attention they deserve.

He also expressed his disappointment at Tugade, who according to him has not been honoring their requests for a chance to discuss the important issues.
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