The government is allocating P29.9 billion for the modernization and rehabilitation of airports, seaports and railways next year, said Sherielysse Reyes-Bonifacio, assistant secretary for Planning of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Of the proposed P29.9-billion infrastructure budget of the DOTC, P9.041 billion (P6.7 billion locally funded and P2.3 billion foreign-assisted) is for aviation; P7.96 billion (P3.4 billion locally funded and P4.5 billion foreign-assisted) for railways; P1.2 billion (locally funded) for ports, lighthouses and harbors; P1.79 billion (P455 million locally funded and P1.3 billion foreign-assisted) for roads and bridges; and P9.93 billion (P9.1 billion locally funded and P800 million foreign-assisted) for other governance projects.
“The DOTC has considered several factors in selecting airports for funding in 2016’s locally funded budget proposal, such as commercial flight operations; request from airlines; recommendation from air planning; and CAAP [Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines] for safety, security, capacity and accessibility improvements,” Bonifacio told lawmakers during deliberations for the agency’s budget at the House of Representatives.
Bonifacio also said the DOTC is supporting the Department of Tourism’s 10-million tourist-arrival target by modernizing the international gateways and other tourism airports.
She said the airports that will be modernized next are the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, P25 million; Laoag International Airport, P13.5 million; Basco Airport, P33.2 million; Clark International Airport New Terminal Building, P2 billion; San Vicente Airport, P34 million; Taytay Airport, P8.8 million; Camarines Sur Airport, P1 billion; Zamboanga International Airport, P160 million; Butuan Airport, P2 million; Dipolog Airport, P25 million; Bagabag Airport, P11 million; Bicol International Airport, P747 million; and regional airports under public-private partnership, P4.8 billion.
Bonifacio added that the DOTC is also set to expand three secondary airports, namely, Siquijor Airport, with P40 million budget; Cotobato Airport, P51 million; and Ozamis Airport, P20 million.
The key secondary airports that will undergo rehabilitation are the ViracAirport, with P32-million budget; Sanga-sanga airport, P577 million; Roxas Airport, P95 million; and Antique Airport, P10 million.
In the same budget hearing, Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol asked Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya to explain the delayed bidding process for the Bicol International Airport.
“This project began in 2009, and was promised its completion by 2016 before the end of the Aquino administration. Seven years later, and the airport isn’t even halfway done. At the rate these delays keep happening, it won’t be finished on time,” Batocabe said.
Batocabe cited the Government Procurement Reform Act, which provides for the awarding of projects within 144 calendar days from date of publication of the “Invitation to Bid.”
A close examination of the DOTC biddings revealed that it took 275 days to award the Bicol International Airport Development Project in 2013. Meanwhile, the bidding for Package 2A of the Bicol Airport Development Project is already 101 days delayed after the DOTC disqualified three complying bidders in August, the lawmaker said.
Abaya said that the DOTC is only following the procurement law, and “by following that law strictly, we are actually protecting the people.”
Bonifacio also said there are 37 seaports that will undergo rehabilitation and construction next year. The DOTC presented a proposed budget of P45 billion for 2016, lower than its 2015 allocation of P54.5 billion.