Press Release
October 9, 2006

Drilon committee approves P5.5B budget
for new airports in Region 6

The Senate Finance Committee approved today a P5.500-billion infrastructure fund that will pave the way for the operation next year of two of the biggest air transport projects in Region 6, the New Iloilo International Airport and the Negros Occidental Airport.

The Finance committee approval came despite the bombing last Sunday of the Negros Occidental Airport allegedly by elements of the communist New People's Army, destroying some P30 million worth of equipment being used for its construction. It was set for completion in the second quarter of 2007.

"The bombing of the Negros airport is certainly a setback, but the move of the committee today to provide funding for this airport sends the signal that we are determined to push through with the project that will bring the region economic progress," said Sen. Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

During the committee hearing on the P17.6 billion budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) for 2007, Drilon declared the allocation for the new airport in Iloilo amounting to P2.712 billion and P2.788 billion for the Negros airport submitted for Senate approval.

Realizing that the new airport being built in his hometown in Iloilo, is as vulnerable to attacks as the airport in Silay City, Drilon called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify security measures surrounding the Ioilo airport, so as not to delay its opening on March 2007.

"The rise of a first-rate airport in Western Visayas that is compliant with international standards is crucial to the development of the country. This will boost our air transportation services, making the Philippines more accessible to the rest of the world," Drilon, a native of Iloilo, said.

Drilon played a lead role in the facilitation of the P6.2 billion Iloilo airport project in the past eight years. He is part of the steering committee which oversees 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, 2006, Drilon had an ocular 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-storey passenger terminal, about 12,000 sq. meter 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 that lead to the first floor. The airport can accommodate six aircrafts simultaneously parking at a time. Air navigation systems, including a radar area is 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 DOTC Sec. Leandro 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.

News Latest News Feed