P-Noy favors expansion of Tagbilaran airport
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Tagbilaran, Bohol – Studies are being undertaken to determine the best way to providing this province with an international airport. But President Aquino appears to favor the expansion of the existing Tagbilaran airport instead of building a new one on the island-tourist spot Panglao.
Mr. Aquino was briefed on the proposed new airport for the province when he flew in yesterday to attend a meeting of the regional peace and order council of Central Visayas and to inaugurate a new municipal hall in Trinidad town.
“The (Japanese agency) JICA study would be finished by around October. There will also be our study if it’s better to have an expansion in Tagbilaran or if we should push through with Panglao,” Mr. Aquino said.
“The bottom line (is) how we hasten the availability of the infrastructure to improve the economy of Bohol and its nearby areas,” he added.
Bohol boasts of a good number of tourist spots. Officials said they want to attract more tourists but are hampered by the fact that the existing airport cannot accommodate large aircrafts.
Aside from the unique Chocolate Hills and the tarsiers, Bohol also has Panglao Island that boasts of pristine beaches that could rival those of world-renowned Boracay in Aklan.
“The only issue here is that Tagbilaran is already a 1.8 kilometer runway. To service the aircraft of regional carriers, it will need 2.5 kilometers. So the expansion of Tagbilaran will just necessitate only 700 meters as opposed to building a 2.5 kilometer runway in Panglao,” Mr. Aquino said.
“So, it’s automatic. It seems faster to build 700 (meters) than 2.5 (kilometers),” he added.
Mr. Aquino said there are also environmental and safety issues in building an airport on Panglao. In contrast, Tagbilaran has already proven that it can handle the effects of having an airport.
“There are many issues in Panglao. Environmentalists ask if the limestone subsoil could support (an airport). There are studies that show it could. The Tagbilaran airport has long been there. It has no such issues,” Mr. Aquino said.
Airports do affect the environment. “There will be pressures when you have an airport and related facilities. There will be waste disposal, solid waste or liquid waste that might impact negatively,” Mr. Aquino said.
The President said he wanted to make sure which option was best for Bohol because billions of pesos would be involved.
“So before we spend that, let’s make sure that this will be the best,” he said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 3, 2011