Bicol lawmakers assail DOTC plan to delay int’l airport
Bicol lawmakers are up in arms over the plan of the Department of Transportation and Communications to delay the completion of the Bicol International Airport project for up to three years.
Representatives Fernando Gonzalez of Albay’s third district, Al Francis Bichara of Albay’s second district, Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes and Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party-list found it “unacceptable” for Bicol to wait another three years to have a world-class airport just because of the DOTC’s bidding issues.
DOTC project engineer Raul Basallote admitted during a recent House hearing that the two-phase development program for the Bicol airport has hit a snag due to problems in the awarding of the contract.
Basallote told lawmakers that while the construction of land facilities had been successfully bid out last January, the project had not been started because the winning bidder was disqualified in the postqualification stage.
Basallote also admitted that the DOTC had to revise the completion target of the project from next year to 2019 because the contract for the passenger terminal building and the runway extension have not yet been awarded.
Gonzalez said that based on Basallote’s report, the Bicol airport would be completed in 2018 or 2019 or two to three years later than the 2016 target committed by President Aquino.
“So why was the completion date revised? Is it because of lack of funding, lack of interest on the part of DOTC to finish the project, or Bicolanos are not important enough that DOTC can just delay the project by three years when all other airports in the country have been completed? We want answers because we have to explain to our constituents. We need the report urgently,” Gonzalez stressed.
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