MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino worker groups have urged the Duterte administration to fasttrack negotiations for a new international airport in Bulacan.

In separate letters sent to both the Office of the President and the Department of Transportation, the OFW groups said they long for a world-class airport that can unlock the country’s growth potential.

Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said her group wrote the letter as an expression of support not just to the building of a new airport in Bulacan but also for other major infrastructure projects that would lead to job creation and OFW reintegration.

“Optimism is high that once these critical projects begin, then floodgates for more jobs and potential investments will be flung wide open. Hopefully, more of our OFWs would be enticed to return and reunite with their families because more local jobs would be open to them,” Ople said.

The following OFW groups signed the petition letters:

  1. Blas F. Ople Policy Center
  2. Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines
  3. OFW Watch
  4. OFW Chamber of Commerce
  5. OFW Council of Leaders-KSA
  6. Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino
  7. Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino Inc.
  8. LBS Recruitment Solutions Corp.
  9. Philippine Association of Migrant Workers & Advocates
  10. Kaibigan ng OCWs
  11. OFW Committee
  12. Zonta Club of Quezon City
  13. United Filipino Seafarers
  14. Ang Kaagapay ng Bawat OFW
  15. Filipino Malaysian Cultural Sports and Workforce Training Program
  16. Bulacan Federation of OFW Family Circle Officers

In their letter, the OFWs said they deserve an international airport that is efficient.

“Around 4,000 to 5,000 OFWs leave the country daily. They deserve an international airport that is efficient, comfortable and can be just as accessible and conveniently situated as NAIA,” they said in their letter.

“The construction of this new airport over a span of five to six years will create new jobs and businesses that would increase the productivity of our workers and entice our OFWs to reintegrate home,” they added.

The OFW groups said Bulacan province is fast becoming the next growth area.

It is adjacent to Metro Manila and a strategic neighbor of Pampanga, thus accelerating and strengthening the growth corridor for investments and tourism for the Central Luzon-Northern Luzon corridor.

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has proposed to build the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulakan, Bulacan with total project cost estimated at $15 billion. The proposal has already been approved by the NEDA board and will be subject to a Swiss Challenge in 2019.

“We look forward to witnessing the completion of not just one but perhaps several new other international airports nationwide within our lifetime. This would truly make our OFWs proud to come home,” Ople said.