80 percent paid on properties affected by San Jose Airport
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---The government has already paid 80 percent of the property owners affected by the development of the controversial 200-ha San Jose Airport in the fourth district of Camarines Sur, according to its proponent. Camarines Sur fourth district Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, the proponent of the San Jose Airport, revealed the accomplishment of the San Jose Airport development in an interview with the local radio station DWNX on Dec. 19. Fuentebella emphasized that his family will not benefit from the project in terms of property sale within the development of the area covered by the San Jose Airport. He said the barangays that are to be affected by the San Jose Airport are barangay Tambangan going to barangay Pugay where the Fuentebellas have no properties. Fuentebella said the known property owners in those places are the family of San Jose Mayor Antonio Chavez and the family of Magtoto. “There is not one place in the proximity of the airport that the Fuenbellas own. Our properties are located in the barangays of Telegrapo and Mansala which are far from the project area and in the town of Sagñay,” he said. Fuentebella said that it is not them who identified the area but the DOTr based on the wind direction which he said comprised the technical justification of the project. “Even if you offer to put up an airport if it will not meet the requirements of airport complex, the government will not approve it,” he said. Fuentebella said airports are not like roads where you can build just anywhere but should be in strategic location where air travel for aircrafts is safe. “We will start initially with a domestic airport. The original plan of the DOTC comprised of 1.8 km runway length. After the feasibility study, they found out that the runway is short so they extended it to 2.8 km,” he said. Fuentebella said there is enough room for expansion for the San Jose Airport to become an international airport which requires 3.2 km runway. “Most important for us is to obtain permit to build airport. That’s the most important,” he said. Fuentebella said the project approach is Public-Private Partnership. “The San Jose Airport development is 101 percent sure,” he said. In 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has allotted P40 million for the development of the San Jose Airport sans the approval the Regional Development Council and the National Economic Development Administration(Neda) Board. But Jerold Peña, chief of staff of Fuentebella, said the San Jose Airport was conceptualized in 1995 when the budget was less than P1 billion, which is the cap of the big-ticket project that must be approved by the RDC and Neda. “We cannot be contained on the issue of RDC and Neda (Board) because there is one department in the government taking care of it,” Peña said. He said their work with the Partido Development Administration (PDA) is to make a master plan based on the “inspiration” of Fuentebella. Peña said they have an ambitious plan for the Partido district which include railways and tunneling. He said the particular agency is directly involved in the DOTr that acted on their proposal (of San Jose Airport) and conducted inspection of the place to know all the technical aspects of the proposed airport including wind direction. However, Camarines Sur second district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte argued in his letter to President Duterte assailing the funding of the San Jose Airport development as a waste of government money. Villafuerte said the location of the airport in San Jose was the last priority based on the studies conducted that aimed at finding new location of the present Naga Airport in San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur. He further argued that the San Jose Airport is not feasible and out of the loop where the bulk of business in Camarines Sur happens. On Dec. 5, Villafuerte and two other congressmen of Camarines Sur, Salvio Fortuno (fifth district) and Gabriel Bordado Jr. (third district) filed a resolution seeking for reconsideration of the budget allotted to the San Jose Airport development. The San Jose Airport had been allotted P200 million for 2018 and in 2019, P400 million had been proposed for its continuing development. Peña said the planned airport in the town of San Jose was not a spur of the moment but based on the study and the master plan of the Partido district.