Rep. Richelle Singson of the Ako Ilocano Ako party-list urged Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to provide funding for the proposed P340-million Vigan Airport Development Project in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur under the 2023 Department of Transportation (DOTr) budget.
In a letter to Speaker Martin G. Romualdez and Appropriations Committee chairperson, Rep. Elizaldy Co, Singson also appealed to her fellow legislators to support her call.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) estimated the budgetary allocation that will be needed for the immediate Construction of Control Tower Building, Power Supply, and Supply/Installation of Communications and MET Equipment, is P120 million; and for Extension/Widening of Runway for P220 million.
The Vigan Airport Development Project was launched on April 8, 2018. The CAAP said other vital components of the project were already started, including the expansion of the Passenger Terminal Building, construction of the Administration Building, and improvement of Vehicle Parking Area, and now nearing 88.24 percent completion. The procurement of the runway site acquisition is also ongoing.
“I can understand why there is a growing public disappointment on the matter. After eagerly expecting the completion of the improvement of the Vigan Airport, the budgetary allocation was not included in FY 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) in spite of the DOTr proposing it to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” Singson said.
An architect by profession, Rep. Singson further stated: “What was started must be finished. Otherwise, it would be a complete waste of government funds if the remaining portions of the project are not continued and completed. We cannot let this project relegated as another failed infrastructure venture”
The DOTr/CAAP data show that Vigan Airport was able to register 47,856 passengers in 2018, a more than triple increase in just a period of two years from 14,645 passengers in 2016. Moreover, Department of Tourism statistics show that overnight travelers in accomodation establishments in Ilocos Sur from January to December 2019 reached 397,022 travelers; 285,828 of which visited Vigan City.
“The completion of the project is crucial to the development of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the whole of Ilocos Sur as well as nearby provinces as it will improve connectivity and boost tourism in the region. We deserve to fully reap the benefits of seeing a completed Vigan Airport. It cannot be another reason to limit influx of foreign and domestic travellers who wish to experience the charm of Ilocos Sur and Vigan, which have tons of unique tourist spots, delicious food and delicacies to share,” Singson stated.