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Construction of Puerto Princesa international airport to start 2012—Roxas

MANILA, Philippines—The construction of a new international airport in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, will start by late 2012, boosting the province’s aim to become one of the country’s most visited tourist destinations.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Monday announced Malacañang’s approval of the project, so far the biggest project being handled by President Aquino’s former running mate.

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“P-Noy (Aquino) just OK’d our P4.5 billion Puerto Princes airport project,” Roxas said in a “tweet” on social networking site Twitter.com. Roxas is one of several Aquino cabinet secretaries that maintain official accounts on the site. Roxas goes by the Twitter handle “@MARoxas.”

The construction of a new airport will be funded using overseas development assistance (ODA) or aid financing from foreign government lenders.

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Roxas said the Department of Transportations and Communications would bid out the contract to come up with an engineering design in January and finalize details about the project’s financing with the Korean government by the middle of 2012.

He said his target for the start of construction of the project is late 2012.

“(I) feel big responsibility to deliver this. Tuloy-tuloy na ’to (This will surely proceed),” he said.

Funding the project using ODA capital is a departure from the government’s original plan of including the airport on the list of public-private partnership (PPP) contracts.

The term PPP refers to the administration’s thrust of encouraging more private sector participation in the development of big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Roxas, who was appointed less than six months ago, has said his department would favor accessing ODA financing to take advantage of cheap loans offered to the Philippine government.

The Aquino government has been criticized for the slow implementation of its infrastructure program, which was earlier touted as the centerpiece of the state’s economic agenda.

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This has been tagged as among the reasons for the slowdown in economic growth. The Philippines’ gross domestic product, which is a sum of all goods and services produced within a certain period, grew by only 3.2 percent in the July-September period.

Under the government’s PPP website, the project aims to develop the Puerto Princesa International Airport into a facility that conforms to safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Despite hosting several popular tourist destinations in Palawan, including the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which was recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the province is bugged by poor infrastructure including roads, making travel within it an agonizing experience.

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TAGS: Airport, airports, aviation, Department of Transportation and Communications, Philippines, Puerto Princesa, Tourism, Travel
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