By Charissa Luci-Atienza
ANGKLA partylist Rep. Jesulito Manalo has sought a bigger budget for the expansion of congested airports in the country.
He made the call during the recent House Committee on Transportation Oversight hearing on the reported congestion of airports particularly in Iloilo, Bacolod and Cagayan De Oro that were built during the Arroyo presidency.
Manalo lamented that under the proposed 2019 budget, airport expansion was only allocated a budget of P90 million.
“This is the reason why lumalaban ang Congress sa bicam ng budget because the P70 billion na hindi hiningi ng agency should be given to infrastructure na hinihingi ng departments for public good,” he said.
Manalo agreed with Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that the passenger capacity of Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod Silay Airport, and Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan De Oro should be expanded.
“So these three airports alone dito dapat i-allocate ang budget na yan and that I think was revealed in today’s hearing where Congress is fighting for taxpayers’ money na magamit for the convenience of the public,” he said.
He noted that the Iloilo International Airport was built with a capacity of 1.2 million per year but is now operating with 2.4 million passengers.
While, the Bacolod Silay Airport has a capacity of 1.2 million passengers but is now accepting 1.6 million passengers per year, he said.
He also took note the Laguindingan Airport is operating way beyond its capacity, lamenting that it has a 1.6 million capacity but is now accommodating 2.4 million passengers.
During the hearing, he disclosed that three airports sought a combined budget of P2.955 billion. Of this, Iloilo airport seeks P855 million budget, Bacolod, P850 million; and Cagayan de Oro, P1.3 billion.
“The utilization of our funds under this Congress is what Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is doing kaya we are fighting because we want to ensure that taxpayers’ money will be utilized by agencies that really need it,” Manalo said.
The oversight hearings were called by Speaker Arroyo to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is put into pro-people projects