Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today urged the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to speed up the repairs and rehabilitation of the country’s airports which are proposed to receive P13.3 billion under the proposed P2.606-trillion 2015 budget in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meetings next year.
The proposed budget, according to Drilon, is P4 billion higher than its current level of P9.1 billion in an effort “to improve the condition of the country’s airport facilities including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and enhance their services.”
Drilon said that the good maintenance and service of Philippine airports will create a good impression for the country, when world leaders will flock to the Philippines for the 2015 APEC Summit meetings, which will be held in at least eight different locations in the nation.
“It is in the airports that visitors get their first and last impression of a country. It is therefore important that we make sure that the first and last thing people see when they visit the nation is the sight of an efficient and capable airport,” pointed out Drilon.
“Our improved airports will be a good boost to our international image when we host the APEC next year. That is why it is very critical that we make sure that the bidding process for the repair and rehabilitation projects will be efficient, and will avoid costly project delays or bureaucratic snags,” said Drilon.
“An efficient transport infrastructure is key to the fast flow of people and tourists, resources and money into countries as it provides access to local and international markets and trade. When we allow our airports to remain unsatisfactorily dilapidated, we are also allowing a great deal of revenues to fly away,” he added.
Based on the details provided under the National Expenditures Program (NEP), Drilon said various airports in the country will undergo different phases of development and capacity build-up next year. The NAIA will receive P592 million for its capacity expansion and maximization, whereas the Clark Airport will get P1.20 billion, Kalibo Airport will receive P950 million, and Iloilo International Airport will get P791 million. Also included are the Busuanga Airport (P1.02 billion), General Santos Airport (P959 million), Ozamis Airport (P695 million), Calbayog Airport (678 million), and Camarines Sur Airport in Naga (670 million).
Meanwhile, the government will continue to provide funding for the development of the Puerto Princesa Airport and Bicol International Airport which will receive P1.55 billion each in 2015, as well as the New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport Development Project and the Laguindingan International Airport which are budgeted with P400 million and P75.44 million respectively.
The budget is lodged under the DOTC’s budget of P59.0 billion, an increase of 20 percent from its current level of P48.8 billion.
The Senate leader said the improvements of our airports will be crucial to the attainment of various goals and target outputs listed by DOTC in the Performance Information section of the budget.
“Among the plans of DOTC for 2015 are to increase the number of seats offered to the public by five percent next year or equivalent to 28 million domestic seats and 26 million international seats; and increase the number of operated routes to 85 from 84 this year for domestic routes and 81 from 79 for international routes,” said Drilon.
He added that the agency is targeting 21 million domestic passengers and 18 million international passengers in 2015.
Drilon said the DOTC should explain its timetable for the projects and provide more details as to how it plans to achieve their target outputs.
“We must then respond to the rising number of passengers flying in and out of the county with better service, improved facilities and more responsible airport management,” Drilon said.
“If the problem is the budget, the Senate is willing to extend support as long as the DOTC can assure us that the airport developments will be finished before the APEC meetings in 2015,” he concluded.