OF TREES AND FOREST
One of the critical challenges facing the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is the problem of transportation. And one particular problem revolves around our airports. This was in full public and global view on New Year’s Day when a severe power outage at the nation’s air traffic control system led to the disruption of hundreds of flights during the start of the new year. Just last week, another snafu affected several flights in NAIA.
Air transport plays an important role in promoting economic growth because it is essential for global business and tourism. Whenever I travel I couldn’t help but admire, and get envious of, the tremendously modern and efficient air travel systems in other countries. Singapore, Japan, Thailand and many other countries have invested a lot of their resources in building world-class airports and improving aviation.
I am sure that many of our kababayan travelers have the same sentiment when they start comparing their airport experiences in these countries with our own airports. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and its flagship project, “Build, Build, Build” made significant improvements but the Marcos regime needs to sustain these gains.
That is why I was very happy to read the statement from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assuring the public that the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) recently signed by President Bongbong included funding for the improvements of at least eight airport projects nationwide.
Based on the data reported by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) these allocations include ₱785 million for Laoag International Airport, ₱1.4 billion for Tacloban Airport, ₱500 million for Antique Airport, ₱80 million for Bukidnon Airport, ₱43 million for Ninoy Aquino International Airport, ₱200 million for New Zamboanga International Airport, ₱50 million for Vigan Airport, and ₱15 million for M’lang Airport.
The report quoted Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman as saying that “funding these airport improvements is in accordance with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to improve the country’s mobility and connectivity.” The money will “support the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of the country’s transportation infrastructure, particularly in the aviation sector.” This is in line with the mandate of President Bongbong Marcos to put prime importance in enhancing our country’s transportation system, Sec. Pangandaman noted.
The President was on point when he said that “having an effective and efficient transportation system will have multiplier effects on employment, the economy, and our society; it will also bring comfort, convenience, and an easier life for all.”
It is painful to see travelers endure difficult conditions at the airport such as subpar facilities and long queues. The airport is like the welcome mat for tourists and businessmen who come to our country. That is the first impression many would have of our country. It should also alleviate the plight of many of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who encounter difficulties whenever they come back or go to their host countries.
I am also glad that much of the resources will be provided to local airports. Local tourism is also a very important element of economic growth. And with President Marcos reverting to the so-called “holiday economics” of moving holidays in order to extend vacation days, we should expect more local tourists to flock to our local airports.
By facilitating local tourism and trade, it generates economic growth, provides jobs, increases revenues from taxes, and fosters the conservation of protected areas. Local airports also aid our local economy because it makes the transport of economic goods more efficient. In this sense, pouring more money into the rehabilitation of local airports contribute to more equitable and inclusive development.
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