Thursday, September 17, 2015

Salceda asks DOTC to hasten works on Bicol airport
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 17 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda on Thursday asked the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to hasten works on the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in nearby Daraga town, which has been delayed despite the availability of funds to carry out the project.

Salceda said he was worried about the statement of Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya that blamed the losing bidders for the delays in government flagship projects like airports and seaports.

"The biggest loser here is the Bicolanos and they are really sore at the additional two-year delay in an already-delayed project,” Salceda said in an emailed statement.

He said the Bicolanos are looking forward to the completion of the project as an emerging foreign tourist gateway in Southern Luzon and an alternative airport facility to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila, Clark International Airport in Pampanga and Cebu International Airport in the Visayas.

Abaya was questioned by two Bicolano lawmakers about the long delays in the awarding of the flagship projects by the DOTC at the hearing on his department’s budget at the House of Representative on Tuesday.

At the hearing, Abaya told the lawmakers that the delays were instigated by the use of many contractors in the DOTC of MRs (motions for reconsideration) as their next course of action after not winning a bid.

Salceda lamented the slow phase of implementation of the BIA project after the DOTC disqualified a winning bidder and is set to hold another bidding, which would further delay the project.

The Sunwest Corp., a Bicol-based contractor owned by Elizaldy Co, was the winning bidder who offered the lowest bid but was later disqualified by the DOTC during post-qualification.

By declaring a failed bidding, DOTC’s Bids and Awards Committee found a convenient excuse to conduct another bidding, Salceda said.

“This would further delay, by at least one year, the actual construction of the long-awaited BIA. All our best laid-out plans for tourism development will suffer as a consequence,” he stressed.

The Albay governor urged Abaya to personally look into the project bidding to ensure that the transaction is above board.

“I don’t want to think that there are favored contractors in the DOTC because this doesn’t speak well of the administration’s “Daang Matuwid” (straight path) mantra," he added.

“We, Albayanos, appeal for the immediate implementation of the international airport, as I understand that the project is not the only major infrastructure project suffering from unjustified delays. Our people deserve better,” Salceda said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD