Without finger pointing and resorting to the blame game, the Bicol Regional Development Council almost owned the mess and error in the continuing implementation of the construction of the vaunted Bicol International Airport located in Barangay Alobo of Daraga town in the province of Albay.
The project was originally seen to cost the national government P4.8 billion.
For here comes the newly composed council with the presumed ascendancy to the leadership of Albay governor Al Francis Bichara urging the Department of Transportation for a review and revision of the implementation of the project because of technical flaws in its approved feasibility study.
Earlier, the governor received a unanimous nomination to head the council has asked support for the proposed revision on the airport project through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Inter-agency Coordinating Committee (ICC).
Without any whimper, NEDA regional director Agnes Espinas presiding during the August 17 meeting, saw no objection from the 47 voting council members composed of Bicol governors, city and capital town mayors and regional directors of various national government agencies.
Bichara’s resolution was accepted during the meeting and subsequently endorsed to the NEDA-ICC board and the Transportation Department.
Bichara questioned the airport ramp and taxiways that measure 475 meters in length, 220 meters in width with 25 meters for expansion as stated in the feasibility study.
Macario Pavia, head of the provincial planning and development office clarified that the provincial government did not have any hand in the preparation of the airport design.
Pavia pointed out that the design did not leave room for airplane carriers to maneuver during arrival and departure due to the limited area at the ramp and taxiways.
It did not even contain airplane tube facilities which is a requirement to meet international airport standards, Pavia cautioned.
The airport was proposed to accommodate between 6 to 12 flights a day but the existing design could not hold the potential volume of flight arrivals and departures.
Bichara said he had talked about this problem with former Governor Joey Salceda, now the second district representative of the province.
Salceda in a text message, said he would not yet comment on this as he has yet to verify with NEDA.
BIA will occupy a 148-hectare area with a 2,100-meter runway strip to be equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other modern facilities.
Bichara said the airport project should have been completed this year had the original timetable been followed.
But despite the availability of funds there were lapses in the bidding process for the Public Private Partnership project.
It must be recalled that Albay Governor Salceda even deserted the Liberal Party during the elections citing the non-completion of the airport, jumped-ship and supported the presidential candidacy of Senator Grace Poe.
After election, Salceda now the elected congressional representative of the second district of Albay has joined the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Bichara represented the second district of Albay in the House of Representatives in the 14th, 15th and 16th congress for nine years.
Both Bichara and Salceda reached their term limits, they exchanged “seats” during the elction of 2016. (With PNA report)