Photo Courtesy: Phil JAC

The New Iloilo Airport at Cabatuan, Iloilo

News Blog about the New Iloilo Airport

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Police chief says Iloilo airport safe

Sunstar Iloilo. Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NATIONAL Police Chief Oscar Calderon is confident that the Iloilo airport project would not suffer the same fate as the Negros Occidental Airport in Silay City, which was attacked on Sunday by communist guerillas.

Senate finance committee chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon said Tuesday that he talked with Calderon and was given the assurance that security measures in both the airports in Iloilo and Silay would be tightened to prevent a similar attack.

Drilon, Liberal Party president, said the Iloilo airport is in its last phase and will begin operation next year.

"The airport in Iloilo, for which P2.7 billion is being allocated in the budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), is about to be finished. The civil works and the electrical works are about to be finished on December 31, 2006. Test flights are supposed to be made on the first quarter of next year, the turnover will be made on March 17, 2007," Drilon said.

During the Senate committee on finance hearing on the proposed P17.6 billion DOTC budget next year, Drilon, who is chairman of the finance committee, inquired from Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza what security measures are in place in the airports in view of the attack.

"In the case of Iloilo, the security forces within the area are already taking the appropriate assessment. Like in the Silay City airport, they are going to install a security detachment in the Iloilo airport," Mendoza informed the committee.

Mendoza also told the committee that although he had instructed airport authorities to minimize the period of delay, the attack would cause a delay in the completion of the Silay airport by one to two months.

"Hopefully, we can secure the Iloilo airport better, so we won't suffer any delay," Drilon said.

Drilon played a lead role in the facilitating the P6.2 billion Iloilo airport project. He is part of the steering committee overseeing the project implementation.

In November 1998, then President Joseph Estrada issued a memorandum creating the Iloilo Airport Coordinating Committee, with Drilon as adviser.

Last September 29, Drilon had an ocular inspection of the site of the new airport in Iloilo and was pleased to see that the construction of the airport is within schedule.

The three-story passenger terminal, about 12,000 square meters in floor area, houses the baggage conveyor on the first floor, the check-in area and the airline offices on the second floor, and the pre-departure area on the third, and the arrival area along the corridors leading to the first floor.

The airport can accommodate six aircrafts simultaneously parking at a time. Air navigation systems, including a radar area, are also in place.

"Iloilo, whose airport has the fourth highest passenger traffic in the country, will benefit from the influx of tourists and investors once the new airport becomes operational in March 2007," Drilon said.

Drilon, along with President Arroyo and Secretary Mendoza, launched the project in Iloilo in January 2004. The airport is seen to increase air passenger and cargo traffic in the province and its influence areas to boost economic development in Western Visayas.

The new airport is sprawled in 184-hectare site between the towns of Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara, located 19 kilometers north of Iloilo City. The plan is to convert the area into a commercial, residential and semi-industrial district. It will be a domestic trunk line airport that will replace the existing airport in Mandurriao.

Last Sunday, NPA rebels bombed P30 million worth of equipment used in building the Negros Occidental airport project.

The P4.3 billion-airport project, located 14 kilometers north of Bacolod, is funded partly by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and was scheduled for completion in the second quarter of next year.

Sunstar Iloilo. Wednesday, October 11, 2006


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