Press Release
June 26, 2009

Rural development is the necessary strategy for poverty alleviation

With most of the rural routes inadequately equipped and remote making it difficult to access, Senator Edgardo J. Angara calls for the establishment of private rural airport infrastructure that will encourage economic activity in the hinterlands.

"The development of rural airports will permit speedy access and reasonable costs to promote and enhance activities for our rural area," said Senator Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

The government is challenged by adequately maintaining the existing ones in the face of rising operating and capital expense. The Air Transportation Office (ATO) which is the agency tasked with the development of airports has limited or no funds at all to supervise the existing airports. More so, to establish, operate and maintain other airports particularly those in rural areas.

"Given the current scenario, it is ideal for the private sector to undertake these responsibilities and activities on its own and government to provide incentives in doing so to at least start this objective to provide rural air port infra for the Filipinos," said Angara.

Angara said that speedy access between urban and rural areas may be provided only by the construction and maintenance of rural air transport network completed by the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing airports. This will advance activities such as transport of personnel and cargo, increase of commercial activity, improvement on domestic and international tourism, emergency responses, delivery of services and assistance from the police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in matter of national security.

The senator, a former Department of Agriculture secretary, added that it will also enhance crop productivity through aerial application, rainmaking and drought alleviation through aerial seedings and reforestation and pest control through air broadcast technologies. Lastly it will enhance surveillance of our natural resources including forestry, coral reefs and animal life.

To have rural airports or at least easy access to such airport in each town and city in the Philippines will make everything reachable within two hours.

"If the proper incentives are not provided to the construction, operation and maintenance of rural airport, there will be no downstream domestic activities to eventually tax or even regulate. The approval of this bill will indeed help our folks in rural areas and our country as a whole," added Angara.

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