Airport delay irks Salceda

DARAGA, Albay --- The much-ballyhooed P4B Bicol International Airport suffered another setback after the Department of Transportation failed to bid out the P400M budget that resulted to its Sub Allotment Release Order (SARO) to elapse, a visibly irate Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda disclosed.

The P400Mllion budget was for the airport Phase 2B that would cover the construction of the airport passenger terminal building which President Duterte wanted to be completed on or before 2019. The airport project was started in 2007 as one of the priority medium term projects of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but was momentarily put on hold by the incoming President Noynoy Aquino. Pres. Aquino finally gave his green light to proceed with the construction and announced its completion by 2015.

Despite the pronouncement, however, the project suffered funding delay from then Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas.

Some two months before the May 2016 presidential election, the P900M budget for the continuing construction of the airport suffered more delay due to bidding precedures, prompting then Gov. Joey Salceda to warn Malacanang that the glitch in the airport’s construction may affect the presidential ambition of then administration bet Mar Roxas.

Last December 8, incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte paid a visit to the Bicol International Airport project in Barangay Comon, Daraga town and led its ground breaking where he also pledged to finish the project within a period of 3 years. He also approved the airport’s upgraded funding to P4.7B, according to Salceda.

Salceda lashed at the DOTr over the lapse of the P400M SARO and accused its officials of gross incompetence saying the oversight was intentional. He said with the lapse of the Saro for the P400M budget, it would take between 3 to 6 months more to have it revived. A rebidding will be required, he added.

Salceda is the proponent of The Bicol International Airport the Bicolanos have been awaiting to be realized. Sans the delays, the project should have been completed as early as last year.