By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) for Bicol appointed Camarines Norte Governor Jonah Pedro Pimentel to head the RPOC’s Task Force.
Pimentel, as task force commander, will be overseeing the smooth implementation of programs and projects being undertaken by the Department of Transportation in Bicol, such as the Bicol International Airport, Philippine National Railways, the proposed Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx) and other projects under the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program of the Duterte administration.
Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, concurrent RPOC chairman in Bicol, has instructed the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Bicol to ensure security measures in all government’s projects, specifically the on-going construction of thee Bicol international airport in Daraga, Albay, to avoid the repetition of violent attacks and harassment by the New People Army at the airport construction site resulting to scorching of expensive heavy equipment and other facilities thereat.
“We don’t want any disruption for the construction of our Bicol International Airport that is targetterd to be completed by 2020 and thus help propel economic and tourism development in Bicol,” Rosal said.
Chief Supt. Antonio Gardiola, Bicol police regional director, disclosed they partnered with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to secure the uninterrupted construction of international airport here.
“We don’t want the attack of rebels to happen again. Your PNP and the AFP in Bicol are working hand in hand to intensify security measures in Daraga where the Bicol International Airport is being constructed,” Gardiola said.
The P3.5B Bicol International Airport was a flagship project of then President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The project hit delays in the construction under the Aquino administration due to slow release of funds despite President Aquino’s promise during his presidential campaign in 2010 to finish it off before 2014.
When President Rodrigo Duterte took over the presidency, he immediately released the initial funds and ordered for its immediate completion.
Duterte wants the international airport to be finished and become operational by 2020. Its construction has already beeen delayed for more than 10 years against its original completion date.
The international airport in South Luzon, once completed, will be serving an estimated 7.1 to 8 million travelers that include those coming from Samar in eastern Visayas, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, proponent of the project, said.