By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY -- Albay Second District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda disclosed that the Bicol International Airport (BIA) will be completed in 2020.
This, as earlier completion dates originally slated in 2016 and re-scheduled for 2018 have obviously been delayed.
“At long last our international airport will be operational in 2020,” Salceda said on the occasion of the swearing in of the new barangays officials last Friday, June 15.
Salceda said on-going projects at the international airport dubbed Package 2A and Package 2B worth P1.8B will be completed by June 27, 2020.
“Don’t’ believe if an announcer from the radio tells you that it will not be completed,” the congressman confidently said.
He explained BIA will be three times bigger than the present Legazpi City airport.
Salceda said that various buildings are now being constructed, such as the administration building, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines(CAAP) building, the maintenance building, fire and rescue building, Air Transportation Office(ATO) building, Department of Transportation(DOTr) building, and the pump water building .
Salceda also disclosed that he has already filed a bill in Congress for the conversion of Daraga from a first class municipality to a city.
Based on the 2015 census Daraga has a population of 126,595 people.
“Congress is now deliberating and arguing on the bill and the only hurdle is that the municipality needs an additional P60M local income,” said Salceda.
He said that Daraga town mayor Carlwyn Baldo is going to improve the real estate tax collection to achieve that target.
“When BIA becomes operational two years from now Daraga will have a real property tax amounting to P156M,” Salceda added.
Salceda said Daraga is strategically located as a growth center.
“All we have to do is continue to work together to develop the potential of Daraga,” said Salceda as he thanked those present for their support since he stayed at Barangay Peñafrancia in 2007.
To secure the construction site, Brig. Gen. Greg Almeroal, commanding general of the 903rd Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon, said a battalion of soldiers will be providing security at the construction site.
New People’s Army (NPA) rebels had already attacked the construction site for failure to pay the demanded revolutionary tax on September 28 last year when they torched five heavy dump trucks, a mini dump truck, a double cab, a grader, a mixer, a crane and an owner-type jeep of Quezon City based EM Cuerpo Builders Inc. On May 12, 2012, the rebels also set into fire 12 heavy equipment worth P76M owned by Sunwest Construction and Development Corp., also a contractor of the proposed airport.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the groundbreaking rites for the P708M construction of landside facilities of the long-delayed Bicol International Airport (BIA) project at Barangay Alobo, Daraga last Dec. 9, 2016 to fast-track its completion in 2018.