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Albay Rep. Joey Salceda lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for doing in just a few months what his predecessor sat on for the last three years – set into motion the completion of the P4.8 billion Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay. Salceda said President Duterte was able to do in four months what the previous administration failed in three years – award the P780 million phase 2 of the project consisting of 17 buildings and land-side facilities ; and bid out the P1.8 billion the passenger terminal building. Duterte is expected to grace the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bicol International Airport on Dec. 8.

“We thank President Duterte for this decisive action and we are confident that an international airport will sustain the gains of Albay tourism,” said Salceda.

“Duterte is a good man who genuinely cares for his people – his heart is in the right place so his guts and gut feel honed by years as local chief executive is fit for the challenges for nation building‎,” said Salceda.‎

Albay tourism exploded from only 8,700 foreign tourists in 2007 to 339,000 in 2015 making it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. But Salceda believes that Albay has barely scratched the surface of its tourism potential.

Together with the approval of the the P171-billion South line of the North-South Railway Project (another pet project of Salceda),foreign tourist arrivals are expected to triple to 1.2 million by 2025. “This will ensure that Albay will be an economic powerhouse,” said Salceda.

The Bicol Airport is a pet project of Salceda who pitched the project to then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a visit to Albay in April 2005. Arroyo, who inagurated a bridge in Salceda’s hometown, Polangui, Albay, immediately instructed then Transportation Sec. Leandro Mendoza to include it in the Medium Term Philippine Infrastructure Program.

With Malacanang’s backing, Salceda, as then chair of the House committee on appropriations, took charge in ensuring full full ding for the project’s implementation with allocation for feasibility study and detailed engineering in the 2006 budget.

In his first of three terms as governor, Salceda took charge in securing suitable right of way (ROW) properties at a dirt cheap price of P28 per square meter.

But the Bicol Airport hit a snag during the Aquino administration as the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) dragged its foot in setting into motion this global gateway to Southern Luzon, particularly the Bicol Region, and parts of the Visayas. Due to the DOTC’s inaction, Salceda was prompted to take “political action” and run as an independent for Congress in this year’s elections.
Salceda took up the Bicol Airport project in his return to Congress as he defended the 2017 budget allocations for economic departments, specifically projects of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, as a vice chair of the committee on appropriations.

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