Government asked: Restore fund for Tacloban airport-A A +A
Monday, October 21, 2013
BUSINESS leaders in Eastern Visayas passed a resolution asking the National Government to restore the P718 million worth of funds for Tacloban Airport Development, earlier diverted by the budget department to finance the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The resolution will be presented by the Eastern Visayas Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVCCI) as priority request in upcoming Philippine Business Conference with President Benigno Aquino III as the keynote speaker.
“The Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport is the main entry for tourists, investors and other passengers, whose structures is not anymore fit and convenient for the growing number of passengers,” the resolution read.
EVCCI regional governor Roy Bernard Fiel said the resolution seeks to call the attention of Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the House Committee on Appropriations to restore the realigned funds.
“The Philippine Business Conference is a good venue to present this resolution to the President for appropriate actions. In the past national conferences, we have also passed resolutions related to DZR Airport Development,” Fiel said.
The resolution, approved by nine presidents of various business chambers in the region, got its approval in last week’s quarterly meeting.
Southern Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Robert Castanares, a former DOTC assistant secretary, presented the proposed resolution.
“As the voice of the business sectors recognized by the national government to air out issues and concerns, we proposed necessary solutions, plans and programs for the social and economic recovery of Region 8, most especially in the coming Philippine Business Conference,” the business group stated.
The delay in Tacloban Airport Development Project has buoyed further outrage among stakeholders when DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said, in a letter to Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (1st district, Leyte), that a big chunk of the 2013 budget for the facility was diverted to DAP.
Of the P1 billion funding for this year, P718.75 million was realigned by DBM with approval from Malacanang, Abaya said.
The DOTC chief relayed updates to the opposition Leyte lawmaker in September 20 in the wake of talks about the legality of DAP.
National Economic Development Authority regional director Bonifacio Uy, acting chair of the Regional Development Council, defended the fund diversion as a way to prop up the national economy.
“The diversion is just temporary and it was necessary. Maintaining government expenditure is one way of ensuring that our overall economic activity is also high,” Uy added.
Abaya released a separate statement on its website to say that the project would still remain on track.
The airside works, which began in April 2013 and will be completed next year, include the P251 million concreting of a new apron, taxiway, drainage system, and shoreline protection to be completed in February 2014.
Construction of parking areas, terminal building and other facilities will begin in July 2014 and will be completed in December 2016.
Development of the DZR Airport has been delayed as it was first included for funding under a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) yen loan package in 1999, along with the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
The new Bacolod Airport was completed in January 2008 while the Tacloban airport project was shelved in September 2008 for lack of funds and then revived under the Aquino administration. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)