Hundred Islands Int’l Airport: a forsaken project?

News Analysis   By Arian Bermas   There’s the B747… oh and the B737! Tons of people departing from this developed City and arri...

News Analysis
By Arian Bermas
There’s the B747… oh and the B737! Tons of people departing from this developed City and arriving from different corners of the world. Then I opened my eyes and realized I was dreaming. It was nothing but a dream, sigh.
Way back 2004 when the City Mayor first took his post, he already mentioned of a very impressive project: the Php3.9 billion-worth Hundred Islands International Airport. The Airport will be fully operational in 2012, he added. However up to this very day of year 2013, not any single sign of an Airport seems to be approaching. 
The Airport is a joint venture of the national government through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the local government of the City of Alaminos. The City government is said to be in charge of the 158.5 hectare-site acquisition. 
And thus the onset of the project arrived. The national government has allotted a budget amounting to Php137.5 million for the purchasing of lands from the residents of Barangays Sabangan, Pandan, and Telbang where the Airport will be built.
The first tranche of the said allotment worth Php50 million was released for the purposes of project survey and site acquisition. In 2011, another tranche worth Php75 million was also received by the City government. With such budget releases, the City should’ve done its part of acquiring the area. However, until now the site acquisition task is not accomplished; there are even some farms in the site.
According to Atty. Abraham Espejo, there has been a technical malversation conducted. Of the funds released for the site acquisition, the City spent at least Php20 million for property, plant, and equipment- not to mention other unspecified expenses- as stated in their cash flows. Espejo pointed out that it is illegal to splurge any amount if such budget is clearly allocated for other precise purposes; in this case, the budget is for site acquisition alone. Thus, it’s like hitting the wrong bird in one stone: spending the budget for other purposes while abandoning the task which should be done.
Also, a Php96 million-fund was released to the City for the earth moving/ excavation and for the construction of the road. RR Encabo Construction Inc. got the contract of the supposed clearing operations. Nonetheless, only a little portion of the site was dug up and flattened. And yes, remember RR Encabo, the firm which obtained much if not all of the City construction projects. In spite of inability to perform well based on contracts, the City did not blacklist the said firm. If this was because of the firm’s Chief Architect being the brother-in-law of the Mayor, we do not know.
Further, it has been said that a feasibility study was conducted in 2002 by the Air and Transportation Office, which found the project feasible. However, according to previous City government officials, the said technical study was made in a different location along Proton area, Mabini and not in the mentioned three mountainous, rugged villages.
When asked on the development of the project, the City Administrator Wilmer Panabang repetitively retorted, “DOTC na po…national po ‘yong pondo na ‘yon, hindi ho project ng Alaminos City.” So after all the bragging before and since nothing happened, why not just throw the blame to the national government? Phase 1 is site acquisition, how then could the national government move forward to the next step if the first one isn’t completed? Despicable.


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