New International Airport to Begin Construction in Philippines

DARAGA, ALBAY-THE CONstruction of the first international airport in Southern Luzon has been set for the last quarter of the year following the approval of the 2006 General Appropriations Act.

The 2006 GAA or national budget includes the P2-billion allotment for the airport in Daraga.

Site development could be started before the year ends, according to Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian.

Called the Southern Luzon International Airport, the project will cover some 24 hectares in barangays Alobo, Kinawitan, Mabini, Burgos and Inarado in this town.

Areas for the runway, airport terminal and control tower are currently being identified in these villages.

The Special Technical Working Group headed by Air Transportation Office chief Frisco Sto. Domingo is handling the technical aspects of the proposed project, Jaucian said.

He disclosed that aside from the P150-million initial funding from Albay 3rd district Rep. Joey Salceda, House appropriations committee chair, Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, concurrent Regional Development Council (RDC) chair, has pledged P100 million as equity for the project.

The mayor expressed optimism that the international airport, which was expected to spur economic development in this part of the country, would be realized because of the support from the local chief executives in Bicol.

Earlier, members of the RDC-composed mostly of mayors and governors from all over the region-promised to extend whatever resources they could share to the project.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, for his part, said the city government accepted Daraga as the site of the international airport.

Rosal said the port would not only benefit the host town and Albay, but also the entire region and Southern Luzon area in terms of business and tourism, once it is fully operational.

The project is expected to be completed by 2009. Edgar Alejo, PDI Southern Luzon Bureau

<<Philippine Daily Inquirer -- 03/27/06>>