July 31, 2011, InterAksyon.com

Governor Edgar Chatto allayed fears the New Bohol Airport will hit another snag just because the President did not mention any update on the project and other top Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects in the State-of-the Nation Address (SONA).

Chatto said there is even no indication that the plan to transfer Mactan International Airport to Cordova, even with strong backing of Cebu representatives, can divert the focus of national agencies away from the New Bohol Airport.

The governor has just returned home with the news that Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas and Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim had given assurances their departments will fast-track their paper work on the New Bohol Airport, including the processing of the barter agreements with the affected landowners at the project site.

He also reported that representatives of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in charge of the restructuring of the project, are even done with the preliminary report. Such report will be finalized by September, with comments from higher authorities in Japan.

Chatto explained that it doesn’t mean that just because President Benigno Aquino III was mum on the update of the PPP priority projects in his SONA, there will be hitches in the airport plan.

In all likelihood, he said, the President no longer saw the need to cite all the PPP projects individually in the SONA because he already launched 10 of them earlier in a gathering in Cebu.

The governor said he met the President at the lounge of the Batasan Pambansa Complex right after the SONA.

After that, Chatto had lengthy discussions on the implementation of the New Bohol Airport in a series of meetings with Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Roxas and Lim, all of them expressing firm commitment to have the airport constructed soon.

If the private sector would be delayed, the government intends to go ahead with its take, with P1 billion already available in this year’s budget. The allocation, to cover the runway under phase 1, can be ready for bidding this year.

DOTC’s present budget will be increased substantially next year to make it about P9 billion, in consideration of the several projects to be implemented, including the New Bohol Airport, Chatto learned.

The allocation for the rest of project’s components will follow, Chatto said, as Abad had mentioned the New Bohol Airport in a recent televised interview.

This year, the PPP got about P12.5 billion, but it will be more than double next year.