By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- The construction of Bicol International Airport in Daraga town needs a notice to proceed from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) after it was put on hold despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s approval, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said.
Salceda said DOTr’s non-issuance of notice to proceed for the construction of the P4.8B international airport has been delayed again and might not be completed in the next three years target of the government.
“During the budget hearing we will know why it was delayed again because there was a “notice of award” but no “notice to proceed.” The notice of award was issued on March 1,” Salceda said.
President Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bicol International Airport on December 2016 where he vowed to finish the construction within three years “without corruption.”
“Somebody from DOTr is answerable for the delay of the construction,” Salceda said.
During the groundbreaking ceremony here, Duterte said the completion of the international airport in Bicol will boost the region’s economy and nearby regions as it will bring in more tourists to the countryside and spawn development.
He said the project will increase economic development in the region as the Cebu Pacific management is planning to make Bicol International Airport as hub and staging point for Visayas and Mindanao regions..
The construction of the Bicol International Airport terminal has been delayed for over a decade because of the snail-paced release of funds under the previous administrations.
Last December 8, 2016, Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the groundbreaking ceremony of the P708M construction of landside facilities project in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay.
The construction of landside facilities was awarded to Bicolano Business tycoon Elizaldy S. Co consisting of 17 buildings for administration, air traffic control, cargo terminal, 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, and guard houses including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) quarters.
The scope of work was confined to the airside facility project while that for the structures at the landside area is being worked out.
Since the inception of Bicol International Airport, the government spent at least P1.6B for the acquisition of lands and the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway.
The airport is located at Barangay Alobo in Daraga town and lies in a 148-hectare area with a 2,100-meter runway strip. It will 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 Governor Al Francis Bichara had asked the DOTr to revise the original plan of the Bicol International Airport to make it compliant with international standards.
Under the revised plan, Bichara said the new airport terminal in Albay provides for escalators specifically for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Bichara said the new international airport must accommodate big volume of travelers 50 years from now and beyond as Bicol, specifically Albay, is the region’s hub.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the airport project in Bicol has been overdue for 12 years now. The project is a flagship program of then President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and was carried on during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III and now by President Rodrigo Duterte.