Duterte breaks ground for P708M Bicol airport; No plan to oust Robredo
DARAGA, Albay — President Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the groundbreaking rites on Thursday for the P708-million construction of landside facilities in the long-delayed Bicol International Airport (BIA) project in Barangay Alobo, Daraga.
Duterte took the opportunity to assure the Bicolanos that Malacañang has not been plotting to railroad Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s electoral protest and oust Vice President Leni Robredo at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). Marcos has asked for a recount in areas where he got no vote at all.
Duterte in an ambush interview said “I will assure Leni and the people of the Bicol region that they will have her until the very end of her term.”
When asked to comment on Robredo’s statement alleging that forces close to Duterte have been plotting to oust her, the President strongly declared: “There is no such thing as removing the Vice President.”
With that said, Duterte spent his time in Albay on the government’s development projects for Bicol.
In an interview, Elizaldy Co, owner of the Sunwest Construction and Development Corporation, the contractor of the BIA Package 2A, said the project would have a two-year time frame and “will be completed by 2019.”
According to Co, the landside facilities will consist of 17 buildings: administration, cargo terminal, air traffic control, crash fire rescue, air traffic control, power house, maintenance, material recovery facilities, pump room and water reservoir, chilled water pumphouse, chlorination house 1 and 2, guard houses and the Department Transportation’s Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines quarters.
So far, the government has spent P1.6 billion for the acquisition of lands and the construction of a 2.1 kilometer runway. The implementation of the airport project has dragged on for 11 years. It was conceptualized and approved during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and was carried on during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III.
The project should have been operational in 2016 but got stalled due to lapses in the bidding process, despite the readiness of funds.
The scope of work was confined to the airside facility project while that for the structures at the landside area was being worked out.
The funds were released in three tranches: P300 million in 2009 and another P300 million in 2010 for concrete road construction and site development. The P970 million funding released in 2012 was spent for the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway.
The project once finished will totally make up for the technical limitations of the existing Legazpi Airport as manifested in frequent flight cancellations. It will also provide for a safer air transportation to the growing number of passengers because of a booming tourism industry in the area.
The BIA lies in a 148-hectare area with a 2,100-meter runway strip, to be equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other modern facilities.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said in an interview said that while President Duterte led the ground breaking rites of the BIA Package 2 project, he requested the President and Secretary Tugade to revise the design of the international airport to meet international standards.
Bichara said he consulted with architect Felino “Jun” Palafox, a known architect, on the project and Palafox told him that “Hindi pa nag-uumpisa ang international airport, it seems the facilities are already obsolete.” (The international airport has not even started operating but it seems the facilities are already obsolete.)
He said the airport taxiway should be revised to make room for the arrival and departure of the planes. He said the existing two-lane road networks connecting the airport to the Maharlika highway should be expanded to a six-lane road in line with international standards. SFM/rga
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