Senators grill DOTr on unfinished projects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — Senators on Tuesday grilled the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on its unfinished airport and railway projects that would benefit commuters and boost tourism.

During the Senate budget hearing for the DOTr, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda asked what's taking so long for the completion of the airports in their respective home provinces of Bukidnon and Antique.

DOTr Undersecretary for Aviation and Ports Manuel Antonio Tamayo committed to having the Bukidnon airport terminal and the runway partially operational by July 2024.

"That is our commitment so that we'll have it partly operational with the 1,650 meters runway length, however, we have a phase 4 that will further extend the runway to 2.1 and this will be mid-year 2025," he said.

Legarda asked Tamayo to submit a report to the committee on the progress of the airport construction, after he failed to immediately respond to the senator.

"We are not lacking in funds, nagbigay tayo, nag-amend tayo ng budget para matapos yan [we gave, we amended the budget to finish that]," she emphasized.

"Wala na raw pera 'yong contractor kailangan daw ng three phase para sa Anteco, wala raw siyang 20 million para magpakabit sa Anteco. Paano ba yan, hindi naman pwedeng senador o congressman ang nagbibigay ng pera para magkaroon po ng kuryente ang airport," Legarda added.

[Translation: The contractor said he doesn't have any money, he said he needs three phases for Anteco, he doesn't have 20 million to connect to Anteco. How is that? It can't be a senator or congressman who will give money for the airport to have electricity.]

Senator Robinhood Padilla also asked the DOTr to look into renovating the airport in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Aside from this, Zubiri wants the DOTr to look into providing additional flight slots to some airlines that have bought additional planes, specifically AirAsia.

"It's useless for them to buy more planes if they cannot use the planes because they have no slots," he noted.