Romualdez rallies colleagues to support the government’s 30-year transport roadmap

Published July 14, 2019, 1:14 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez is calling on his colleagues to rally behind the Duterte government’s planned construction of more international airports and rehabilitation of existing airports, including the Tacloban airport, under its 30-year transport roadmap.\

Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

He made the call as Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade asked the lawmakers’ full support for the 30-year transport roadmap during a meeting with him and 40 other congressmen at the Manila Golf late Wednesday afternoon, July 10.

“We badly need a strategic framework for linking the entire country though well-designed infrastructure projects. This is one program worthy of our all-out support,” Romualdez, who was endorsed by President Duterte as the House Majority Leader of the 18th Congress, said in a statement.

He even expressed his elation over the government’s commitment to upgrade Tacloban airport into an international airport.

“Upgrading our airports in the provinces for international use will surely boost local economies and ensure equitable growth among the regions,” he said.

“The Duterte administration has ushered in the Golden Era of Infrastructure in the Philippines. This is an opportunity for us to come up with a roadmap that will guide policymakers in developing transport infrastructure linking all areas in the country,” Romualdez

During the meeting, Tugade stressed that the 30-year roadmap would serve as strategic framework and guide for policymakers in identifying the country’s transport needs and in implementing an integrated, more coordinated approach to establish stronger transport infrastructure linkages to support the country’s inclusive growth.

“I am seeking all your help to ensure that this roadmap will be approved by Congress. Without legislation, this roadmap will remain just a program that may be scrapped by future administrations,” Tugade told the lawmakers during the meeting, citing that the airport development program is part of the 30-year roadmap.

He noted that various transport-related agencies and local governments have been flexing their muscles to map out plans or strategies to address bottlenecks in the transport sector.

“However, to be able to bring a more focused or targeted intervention that is more inclusive, these various strategies need to focus on establishing interconnectivity between key urban growth centers and between lagging and fast-growing regions, and creating supporting institutions that promote greater integration,” he said.

During the meeting, the 40 other lawmakers expressed support to Romualdez’s call to rally behind the 30-year transport roadmap.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda even vowed to file a measure on the proposed transport roadmap in the 18th Congress.

Romualdez also asked colleagues to ensure that all transport-related infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation and upgrade of all vital airports in the country, will be funded under the 2020 national budget.

“Even the President has taken notice of the chaos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. He was not pleased to have witnessed how passengers endured congestion due to flight delays and cancellations,” he said.

He sought the widening of the breadth of the runway and the upgrade of terminal facilities for night-flight capabilities.

The Leyte lawmaker made such proposals, as domestic flights departing Manila are crammed during daytime due to inability of provincial airports to receive flights at night and only 19 of the country’s 42 airports are able to receive and dispatch night flights, quoting the airport authorities and the records of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

He pressed on the need to upgrade all vital airports across the country particularly those departing from and arriving in Manila to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

He noted that under the 2018 national budget, the Duterte government allocated a total of P10.1 billion to modernize the infrastructures of 40 airports, including Clark International Airport (CIA). Of the total budget, the CIA got the biggest chunk of P2.74 billion.

“If necessary, we may have to double that amount in the 2020 national budget. This requires a multi-partisan support from both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Romualdez said.