Press Release
October 10, 2006

PNP Chief assures Iloilo airport safety, says Drilon

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Cal deron has assured that the Iloilo airport project will not suffer the same fate as the Negros Occidental Airport in Silay City, which was bombed last Sunday by alleged operatives of the New People's Army (NPA), Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Franklin M. Drilon said today.

"I had a conversation with General Calderon and he gave me the assurance that the security measures will be upgraded in these two airports in order to prevent a similar attack," said Drilon, who is also Liberal Party president.

Like the airport project in Silay City, the Iloilo airport is in its last phase of completion and will begin operation next year.

"The airport in Iloilo, for which P2.7 billion is being allocated in the budget of Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), with the loan proceeds of P1.5 billion, is about to be finished. The civil works and the electrical works are about to be finished on December 31, 2006. Test flights are supposed to be made on the first quarter of next year, the turnover will be made on March 17, 2007," Drilon said.

During the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed P17.6 billion DOTC budget next year, Drilon, who is chairman of the finance committee, inquired from Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza what security measures are in place in view of the attack.

"On the case of Iloilo, the security forces within the area are already taking the appropriate assessment. Like in the Silay City airport, they are going to install a security detachment in the Iloilo airport," Mendoza informed the committee.

Mendoza also told the committee that although he had instructed airport authorities to minimize the period of delay, the attack will cause one to two months delay on the construction of the Silay airport.

"Hopefully, we can secure the Iloilo airport better, so we won't suffer any delay," Drilon said.

"We will draw all possible to make sure that it will not happen to Iloilo airport," Mendoza assured Drilon.

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-story 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 Secretary 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.

Last Sunday, NPA rebels bombed P30 million worth of equipment used in building the Negros Occidental airport project.

The P4.3 billion airport project, located 14 kilometers north of Bacolod, is funded partly by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and was scheduled for completion in the second quarter of next year.

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