Grace Poe: Pangasinan needs int’l airport
SAN JOSE CITY—Officials and businessmen of Pangasinan expressed support for a suggestion made by Sen. Grace Poe to build an international airport in the province to speed up its economic growth.
During her visit to Pangasinan on Wednesday, Poe told businessmen that an international airport in Sta. Barbara, a central Pangasinan town, must be developed to increase the number of tourists in the province.
“Because of the absence of air transportation, our share of tourists is low, to think that we have beautiful beaches and historical places,” she said during the joint induction ceremonies and general assembly of the Metro Urdaneta Business Club Inc. and the Metro Dagupan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.
An international airport in Alaminos City was started in 2010 after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved its establishment. But the Aquino administration did not include the Alaminos airport among its priority projects.
Alaminos City Mayor Arturo Celeste said he did not mind if an international airport would be built instead in Sta. Barbara.
“What is important is for the province to have an international airport. Pangasinan is big enough to accommodate an international airport and a domestic one. Anyway, the property has been bought and is already owned by the national government, specifically the Department of Transportation and Communications,” he said.
He said the proposed airport in Alaminos could be used for domestic flights to cater to tourists who visit the world-renowned Hundred Islands National Park.
“What we won’t want to happen is for the proposed airport to be abandoned and for the paved access road to become a ‘white elephant,’” he added.
Poe said the international airport in Pangasinan can service Northern Luzon, especially with the planned bypass road connecting San Nicolas town to Nueva Vizcaya, and the Isabela-Pangasinan Road.
In Pangasinan, Poe also advised Malacañang not to dismiss the impact of Friday’s Zero Remittance Day, saying it would surely affect the economy considering the huge contributions from Filipinos working abroad.
“It’s wrong for government to say it won’t be affected by a national civic protest urging overseas migrant workers to stop remitting money,” Poe told a youth leadership forum here.
She was referring to a civil disobedience campaign being waged by activists to protest the Bureau of Customs’ now-rescinded plan to open balikbayan boxes and inspect its contents for taxable items.
A similar campaign was waged in 2013 in protest of the theft of public funds through the pork barrel system but Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said “there were no reports that it caused serious damage.”
“We respect the overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) right to express their sentiments. We continue to acknowledge the huge contributions of OFWs to our economy,” Coloma said.
Poe rebuked the Palace for this statement. “The government should have offered its sympathies to our overseas Filipino workers, knowing full well how huge their contributions have been to our country,” she said.
She said the OFWs remit as much as P26 billion annually. Reports from Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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