Job-seeking, repatriated OFWs pin hopes on San Miguel’s Bulacan airport project
MANILA, Philippines—Migrant workers’ groups on Thursday (Sept. 24) threw their backing behind the Bulacan airport project of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), saying the construction of the P750-billion megaproject will provide the province jobs and livelihood opportunities for workers displaced by the pandemic.
In a statement, Blas F. Ople Policy Center president Susan Ople said the construction of the new airport has become a source of hope for Bulacan residents and repatriated overseas Filipino workers who are looking for employment.
Herself a resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan, Ople said that the perennial flooding problem in coastal areas would also be finally addressed without taxpayers’ money involved as part of the airport’s construction plan.
“San Miguel’s bold move to push through with the airport project amid the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has become the biggest ray of hope not only for the people of Bulacan but also for our OFWs and other displaced workers,” she said.
She noted that flooding in Bulacan has been a constant problem that has gone on over the years without clear solutions from the national government.
“It doesn’t make sense to build an airport in a place where planes can’t even land because of constant flooding, so definitely this problem will be addressed by San Miguel in partnership with the provincial government,” she said.
During the Senate hearing on the grant of a franchise to the project proponent, San Miguel Aerocity Inc., Sen. Grace Poe heard the views of several OFW leaders who also expressed support for the new airport.
According to the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines’ Capt. Danny Ricohermoso, the maritime sector is supporting the construction of a new international airport in Bulacan because of its job creation prospects as well as the project’s expected boost for the local and national economies.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has repatriated 124,717 OFWs, including seafarers. According to data from the Department of Labor and Employment, at least 346,555 OFWs have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
Ricohermoso said the new airport project will reinforce the Philippines’ standing as an investment and tourism destination.
Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino Inc. founder Luther Calderon said the building of the airport complex in Bulacan would serve as a long term solution for expatriate workers wanting to return home and find local employment.
“With the sharp economic downturn affecting traditional labor markets, many of our OFWs yearn to come home and be reunited with their families,” he said. “Massive infrastructure projects such as the building of a world-class airport in Bulacan gives them hope for the future.”
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