PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines—President Aquino on Monday inspected the construction work on the new international airport here, one of his administration’s main tourism-boosting infrastructure projects.
The facility, targeted for completion in 2017, aims to upgrade Palawan’s capacity to handle more tourists.
The President made a 30-minute stopover at the airport before proceeding to Cebu City. He was briefed by an official of Kumho Industrial Co. (Kumho-GS), the Korean group undertaking the project.
The $82.9-million (P3.6 billion) airport development project, which the Korean company reported to be 30-percent completed, is funded by a soft loan from the Korean Eximbank under its Economic Development Cooperation Fund facility.
Once completed, the facility will boost the Puerto Princesa airport’s annual capacity to 2 million passengers, against the current capacity of 350,000, according to a D0TC primer.
The project mainly involves the expansion and improvement of the existing runway and related facilities, including the construction of a new passenger terminal and air traffic control tower.
From Puerto Princesa, the President and his party proceeded to Cebu to lead the groundbreaking rites for the new passenger terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
In a statement, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Puerto Princesa airport development project and the Mactan airport terminal project form part of the government’s infrastructure development efforts.
In its final year in office, the Aquino administration aims to “reap greater achievements for the Philippines” as well as bring about even more benefits for the Filipino people, he said.
According to Lacierda, “improvements such as these help to stimulate our economy and boost our country’s reputation as a tourist and business destination.”
“Just as in Palawan, the number of travelers to and from Cebu has also been rising in recent years. This project is targeted to increase the airport’s annual passenger capacity from 4.5 million to 15 million, and is projected for completion in June 2018. Apart from the construction of a new terminal, the project also involves the renovation of the existing Passenger Terminal I building,” he said.
Arriving in Cebu City, Aquino hit out at an unnamed critic who claimed that the P14.4-billion premium paid by a consortium to operate the Mactan airport would be used by the Liberal Party for the 2016 election campaign.
Aquino said he considered the allegation an “insult” to his administration, pointing out that the premiums generated from public-private partnership (PPP) projects went directly to the national treasury.
“But that is life. I will just swallow it,” he said in a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new MCIA passenger terminal building. –With Jerry E. Esplanada and Doris C. Bongcac, Inquirer Visayas
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