Completing the Bicol International Airport remains a top priority for Former Albay Governor Joey Salceda as he takes on his new role as the newly elected representative of Albay's second congressional district. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in July 2017, but was delayed to August 2018 due to the failure of the previous administration to award contracts.
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Earlier this year, Salceda wrote to former Department of Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya requesting to expedite the awarding of the contract for phase 2A of the Bicol International Airport, which includes the construction of landside facilities.
Lawmakers in Bicol have remained frustrated over the past months as on-going delays "due to technicalities" continue to cost the region billions of pesos in opportunity losses from what would be increased tourism and enhanced economic activity.
The new airport is expected to trigger economic growth in the Bicol region, as the new airport delivers a safe, economical, and faster way of reaching local and international destinations. The P4.7 billion project is currently under construction in Daraga, Albay. It will feature a 13,320 square meter two-storey passenger terminal and separate cargo facility.
Salceda expects that the development of the new airport will bring approximately five million tourists to the region by 2025, investments totalling nearly US$1 billion, and 235,000 jobs within the next decade.
The Bicol International Airport, coupled with two other infrastructure projects, the South Luzon Expressway extension and the South Luzon Railway, are all expected to transform Bicol into a new investment haven in southern Luzon.
The City of Naga has also faced delays with improvements to its airport. Naga is not expected to see completion of an airport expansion project until 2019. Last year, the National Economic and Development Authority approved an expansion of the terminal building and runway re-orientation to accommodate larger jets.
However, the airport expansion project caused the demise of another project originally announced in 2012 to install a P50 million airfield lighting system that would have enabled Naga Airport to conduct night flight operations and expand the current number of flights to the city. The decision cost the city millions of pesos in lost economic activity and tourism growth as Naga has been forced to wait until 2019 before it can realize any growth through its airport.
Meanwhile, as the seventeenth Congress is slated to begin on July 25, incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel has placed the development of the country's two major international airports at the top of his agenda. Pimentel stated earlier this week that he will push for the development of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Clark International Airport.
"We need the two airports as our main international gateways," said Pimentel. "NAIA to serve South Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to Bicol, and Clark to serve North Metro Manila and Northern Philippines, to ease travel and flow of logistics."