LEYTE Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Sunday challenged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to rehabilitate first the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before even thinking of transferring the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (DZRA) in Tacloban City.
Romualdez expressed doubt on the ability of President Aquino to initiate the transfer of the Tacloban City airport because of his failure to introduce rehabilitation and repair works at NAIA.
“I believe he should focus first on the rehabilitation of NAIA 1 that was declared the worst airport in the world and not the relocation of our airport,” he said.
The lawmaker was reacting to an earlier statement of the President that he was thinking of transferring the Tacloban airport, considered as the tourism and industry gateway in Region 8.
He said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had denied their supposed study recommending the relocation of the airport following the Yolanda tragedy last November 8, 2013.
“A dozen stakeholders from JICA, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other industry players were unanimous in saying that they were against the transfer. We are quite surprised that the President is recommending that,” Romualdez pointed out.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the government would need around P10 billion to P12 billion to relocate the airport.
“Our apprehension there is when you talk about transferring, it would cost billions of pesos. My God! We are having difficulty building the houses for the Yolanda victims, and we’re talking about transferring the airport?” the Romualdez said.
The mayor said JICA agreed with the stance of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) of keeping the airport in its current location.
“Basically, what I’m saying is that I’m not against the transfer of the airport, I’m saying that we don’t make rush decisions. We have to look at that very carefully because it will affect our economy,” he stressed.