Drilon urges PGMA to open new Iloilo airport now
Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon urged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to order the immediate opening of the new Iloilo Airport of international standards in Cabatuan-Sta.Barbara area that was originally scheduled for inauguration last April 16 but was postponed due to various reasons.
Drilon said with the delay in the opening of the P6.187-billion Iloilo airport, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Air Transportation Office (ATO) have been incurring huge unnecessary losses due to maintenance, electricity and security costs.
"There is no justifiable reason to further delay the inauguration and opening of the Iloilo International Airport," said Drilon. "We appeal to Malacañang to order the opening of the airport as soon as possible."
Drilon explained that aside from government incurring unnecessary losses, the delay in the opening of the Iloilo airport would also delay the delivery of its economic development benefits to Western Visayas.
Drilon said the new airport would provide a new gateway to the Visayas for millions of foreign tourists and investors and offer new opportunities for businesses, employment and economic growth to the region.
The new Iloilo airport is a 188-hectare complex located within the municipalities of Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan in Iloilo. Its construction was started on April 19, 2004 and was completed on March 18 this year.
The DOTC originally scheduled the inauguration and opening of the airport last April 16. Among the reasons cited for the delay was the airline companies have not finished with the transfer of their facilities from Mandurriao Airport to the new facility.
Another reason cited for the delay of the airport opening was the tight appointment schedule of President Arroyo especially during the time when First Gentleman Mike Arroyo underwent a major heart surgery last month.
Since the aborted schedule, the DOTC has yet to set another date for the official opening of the airport. Last talks had it that the airport opening will be made in June.
ATO Iloilo manager Allan Java, in an earlier interview, said that they are ready to transfer to the new airport any time.
He said they are only awaiting word from the DOTC and ATO officials.
The construction of the Iloilo Airport project was approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), upon the representation of Drilon, on March 2000 and subsequently led to the signing of the Special Yen Loan Package (SYLP) Loan Agreement PH-214 on 31 August 2000. The agreement was signed by the Government of the Philippines and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
Drilon noted the opening of the airport would bring about economic development not only to the province of Iloilo but the entire Western Visayas as well.
"The people of the Western Visayas can now be assured of steady economic progress resulting from the increase in the flow of trade and commerce with the construction of the new airport," Drilon said.