Pres. Duterte completes, inaugurates state-of-the art Bicol Int’l Airport that was first planned in 1996

Says his province mates might have been disappointed with his instructions to Tugade to prioritize projects outside Davao

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the unveiling of the marker of the Bicol International Airport during the inauguration ceremony at Daraga town in Albay on October 7, 2021. With the President are (from left) Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Albay Representative Jose Ma. Clemente Salceda, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, Daraga Mayor Victor Perete, and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines director general Jim Sydiongco. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte said that during his administration he had specifically instructed officials to distribute projects and funds equally, with “no political alignments, no political color” as he inaugurated the new state-of-the-art Bicol International Airport.

During his speech, he said he might have disappointed his province mates in Davao because he had instructed his officials to prioritize other provinces, and not Davao.

“You know, in hindsight, one of the things disappointed ang mga taga-Davao is because sinabi ko sa lahat sa Cabinet, the funds walang political alignments, walang political color,” he said on Thursday, Oct. 7.

“It will be distributed equally. But there was one caveat na sinabi ko kay Art, ‘Unahin ninyo ang ibang lugar, huwag ang Davao.’”

So ang Davao kung napunta kayo, hindi makalahati sa ganda, and the space, crowded masyado,” Duterte said.

The 76-year old Philippine leader said he is happy that the Bicol International Airport (BIA) has been completed in his term.  The new airport can accommodate a total of 2 million passengers annually.

-Tugade says Duterte wanted BIA finished before his term ends-

Tugade said the President had been worried at first during the airport’s groundbreaking ceremonies in December 2016 if the renovation of the airport could be completed within his administration.

Art, matatapos ba ang proyektong ito sa termino ng aking administration?” Tugade recalled Duterte as asking him.

He then told the President that he could do it. “Mr. President, we will complete and finish the project.”

“That was December 8, 2016, tandang tanda ko pa. Noong papala-pala ang President sa groundbreaking, kasama nya akong nagpapala,” Tugade said.

Ang sabi lang ng ating pangulo sa akin, ‘Art I believe you, I trust you,” he recalled.

The Bicol International Airport was first planned in 1996, during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos.

The Philippine government issued the notice to proceed in July 2009, during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and was supposed to be finished in 2016.

“After two decades of waiting, the Bicol International Airport in Albay now proudly stands and ready to serve commercial flights,” the Department of Transportation said in a statement.

Tugade noted that the airport had three groundbreaking ceremonies during the previous administrations, after various delays in its construction.

But he said the Duterte administration made sure that the construction would finally be finished and the state of the art airport completed before 2022

-Commercial flights start-

On Oct. 7, after its inauguration, commercial domestic flights already started at the airport.

International operations will start next month.

“The completion of this world-class and state-of-the-art government infrastructure project brings us pride and joy as it will provide better transportation for our people who are traveling to and fro the Bicol region,” Duterte said in a speech during the airport’s inauguration on Oct. 7.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte inspects the facilities inside the Bicol International Airport following the inauguration ceremony in Daraga, Albay on October 7, 2021. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The President congratulated the DoTr and the “local officials and project partners, including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, for turning the Bicol International Airport into a reality after an 11-year delay.”

Duterte said that the inauguration of the airport “is another milestone in the administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program.”

“We are fulfilling our vision of improving the lives of Filipinos by providing quality infrastructure projects that allow for greater connectivity and mobility, create more jobs, and boost economic activity in other regions,” he said.

-Most scenic gateway in the country-

This airport is dubbed as the “Most Scenic Gateway” in the country.

It is located in Daraga, an adjacent municipality of Legazpi. It is on a 200-hectare plateau 15 kilometers from Mayon Volcano.

Photo shows the Bicol International Airport which was inaugurated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at Daraga town in Albay on October 7, 2021. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte said that the new airport “promises to provide an unforgettable travel experience not only to visitors but also to many Bicolanos.”

“On this note, I urge the management and staff of the Bicol International Airport to ensure that your passengers will get the best quality of service they deserve. I am confident that, once fully operational, this airport will be able to serve the needs of those which expected two million passengers annually, and provide the efficiency, reliability, and safety standards to ensure a modern airport,” he said.

The DoTr said the Bicol International Airport (BIA) “offers high-technology features and contactless system, just like Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga, such as contactless baggage handling and food ordering system, making it safe and convenient amidst the raging pandemic.”

Tugade said he promised to deliver the country’s “Most Scenic Gateway” from plan and concept into reality, despite doubts and challenges.

’Yung alinlangan at duda na ‘yan ay sinamahan ng unos at bagyo na kung saan naantala yung proyekto. Hindi nakuntento ‘yung unos at bagyo, dumating ang pandemya at naantala na naman ang proyekto. Hindi ‘ho natigil dyan, dalawang beses akong sinunugan dito sa project na ito,” Tugade said.

“Mr. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Sir, here is the Bicol International Airport, delivering to you for the use of the Bicolanos at ng buong sambayanan:

Signed, sealed, and delivered, Mr. President,” he said.

The new Bicol International Airport in Daraga, replaces the old Legazpi Airport which is just 2 to 3 kilometers from the volcano.


(Eagle News Service)