LEGAZPI City -- Albay leaders on Thursday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s first-time visit in the province where he assured Albayanos of the completion of the 12-year delayed construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Bgy. Alobo, Daraga town.
Together with top officials of the province led by Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara, former governor and now Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the President participated in the ground-breaking rites for the continued construction of the BIA facilities, identified as Package II-A or the construction of the land-side edifices of the massive Bicol airport.
With a budget of P780 million under the Duterte administration, Package II-A will complete the construction of the airport administration and cargo terminal buildings of the BIA.
Salceda thanked the President for giving priority to the long-delayed airport which was started during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with a total cost of P4.8 billion.
Concerning the delays of the BIA construction, the President said, “Bicol has been in the lower-end of governance by past administrations, particularly in infrastructure, but in my time, before the end of my term, I could probably get a railroad for you,” (referring to the revival of the railway system from Manila to Albay), the President added.
Bichara, for his part, said the target completion of the airport by 2020 is of vital demand to the province, as many airport facilities, particularly the NAIA, is getting crowded. The BIA can host direct flights from China, Taiwan and South Korea, both passenger and cargo flights, since the airport is designed for international flight standards, he added.
It will be recalled that after President Duterte’s assumption last June, Bicol representatives in Congress prodded the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to hasten the construction of the BIA, blaming former DOTC Sec. Emilio “Jun” Abaya for a series of failed biddings to complete the airport.
When Bichara assumed as Albay governor and voted as Regional Development Council chair in Bicol, he asked the DOTr to revise the feasibility plan of the airport due to technical lapses.