In the many years I served in the government and now a decade as a private sector member, very few arrangements have surprised me. But when they do, I can easily understand why.
This is a kind of personal narration of my experience particularly now that I am in the media as assistant publisher of this community paper and as an elected member of the Private Sector in the Regional Development Council (RDC).
Over the last few months, I have been consumed by the desire to help get the “internationalization” of the Tacloban Airport back on schedule. At the beginning of my participation in the meetings of the Regional Project Monitoring Committee the super delay in the completion of the Tacloban Airport Development Project caught my attention. I have been ardently following it since.
There are many other projects of note in this region that are woefully behind schedule, but this one is so huge and pivotal in the improvement of the lives of the people of Eastern Visayas that I can’t stop paying attention to it.
My quest has brought me to many radio station interviews which, using the latest technology, were heard, and watched on Facebook, and published in several newspapers as reported by many local correspondents and reporters.
It was quite a good copy. Few have really come out in this region into the open to criticize why and how a billion-peso project that all visitors to Tacloban City can see is a year behind schedule and the subject of so-called Variation Orders that are clearly questionable.
Many have warned me about the risks of talking about the problems in this project, including members of my family, and my co-workers in the media industry. I am treading on dangerous grounds.
But talking about this project and writing about it is part of my work in this industry. It is work for a purpose and without malice. I have told my colleagues in the private sector that our task in this regard will continue until the first international flight lands at this airport. This should happen in 2025 as originally planned, but due to the super delays, even 2027 is an optimistic target. By then the national government would have spent on this project around five billion pesos.
But that five billion pesos is exactly what the region will earn every year in terms of expenditures by tourists. Therefore, it is clearly a gain for the region’s economy.
Yes, this project is a game-changer. There will be many more multi-billion big-ticket projects in this region at least for the next five years of the Marcos Administration. But this one, I feel will have the most instant and long-lasting, sure impacts on the financial well-being of everybody in this region.
The significant increase in the number of tourists coming to the region will benefit all provinces in terms of tourist destination development, food production, and employment, to name a few.
Solving the problems besetting this project is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, as the implementing agencies. All eyes in this region are on you. The Marcos Administration should now seriously consider changing their heads and key staff. The delay is just too much for this region to bear.
As a sneak peek into my column next week: it will be about an unholy alliance that has emerged in the discussions on this project at the RDC level.
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