Airport construction affects 20 farmers

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


While the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTr) is fast tracking the construction of Bicol International Airport, some 20 farmers in the area can no longer till their rice fields due to stagnant water brought by the construction of international airport in Barangay Alobo, Daraga town.


Councilor Bobby Magalona, chairperson of the Daraga’s Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Infrastructure and Public Works along with other town officials conducted a public hearing to hear the complaints of the farmers affected by the construction of the international airport.

Aerial view of the Bicol International Airport.


Magalona said that farmers from the Barangays of Alobo and Mabini can no longer cultivate and plant palay due to clogged water canals in Alobo that affected the farmers near the Bicol International Airport.


At least two hectares of rice fields in Barangay Alobo are affected by stagnant water when the airport contractor constructed an additional strip of the runway. The expansion of the airport runway caused the stagnant water on the rice farms in Barangays Alobo and Mabini affecting more or less 20 farmers.


To address the problem affecting the farmers, Jim Melo, DOTr assistant secretary for Aviation and Airports, said their contractor will conduct a non-stop drainage works, including on Sundays, to finish the canal by next week.


“We were made aware that some rice fields outside the airport area were affected and this is due to the construction of the additional strip width of the runway,” Melo said.


“We were informed that a nearby hill slope makes drainage very difficult. Rest assured that drainage works are already ongoing, in order to draw down water levels in these affected areas. As per our contractor, they will conduct non-stop drainage works, including on Sundays, to hopefully finish the canal by next week. The first temporary 80-meter canal from the runway edge is already functioning,” he added.


Melo said that they are working to further dewater affected areas by digging another 100-meter canal from the runway edge, which is expected to be finished by next week.


“So, in effect, water is subsiding already. Hence, the water level has already subsided on the farmland. Still, we are designing a better solution to ensure drainage of water not only in the airport area, but also of all adjacent areas that may be affected,” the DOTr official said.


It will be recalled that last July 30, 2021, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade landed at the Bicol International Airport (BIA) from Manila aboard Gulfstream 150 jet to check the progress of airport’s construction, which now stands at 90 percent complete.


Tugade wants the construction of the airport to remain on track for its target completion by September 2021.


Tugade expressed optimism that the airport project will be finished on time and will be operational after 25 years since its inception.