By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo is set to receive a P190 million budget for its repair and development, but for a local chief executive, the proposed funding is “not really enough.”
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas stressed that the funding from the national government’s 2024 Aviation Transport Infrastructure Program of the Iloilo Airport cannot cover all that needs to be repaired in the airport.
“It’s not really enough since, as reported to us, the following are needed: repair of the air-conditioning system, repair of all escalators, repair of the runway, repair of toilets, repainting of the whole structure, repair and maintenance of landscaping, preventive maintenance of escalators, elevators, and the air-conditioning system; repair and maintenance of all x-ray machines,” Treñas said in a statement.
The city mayor has since advocated for the proposed expansion of the airport which will be carried out through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The proposed expansion under the PPP scheme of the Iloilo Airport covers the upgrade of the passenger terminal building, construction of an apron adjacent to the passenger terminal building, installation of the required equipment for passenger services, and modernization of the appurtenant facilities.
Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr., House Appropriations Committee Vice Chairperson, in a list he provided, showed that the Iloilo Airport is among the 22 airports in the country to receive funding from the national government.
“All told, Congress has earmarked P7.5 billion this year for the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of various airports and navigational facilities, including the procurement of equipment,” Campos said.
The lawmaker added that the new funding allocations for the 22 airports are itemized in the 2024 General Appropriations Act.
“The spending is meant to sustain the modernization and expansion of the country’s aviation hubs in time for the projected full recovery of global air traffic in 2025 [and] of course, we are also counting on the spending to enhance the overall travel experience of passengers,” Campos said.
Daily Guardian has reached out to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. for comment but he is yet to respond as of writing.
The governor previously said that the problem in the airport is very practical, and the congestion in the facility is about to reach pre-pandemic levels.
Speaking before economic leaders during the Philippine Economic Briefing in Iloilo City in December 2023, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista emphasized the need to expand the airport.
“We think that Iloilo Airport should be expanded. We just passed through the Iloilo Airport this morning and we notice that there is really a need to improve it,” Bautista said.
However, the DOTr secretary’s proposed expansion measure at that time leans on the PPP model.
“With the privatization of the airport, expanding it to accommodate 10 million passengers a year, it could help the economy of Iloilo and the neighboring areas and also attract more visitors and tourists,” he said.
A report from the PPP Center showed that two interested investors submitted unsolicited proposals to the DOTr for the airport’s expansion.
Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and Prime Asset Venture, Inc., submitted proposals valued at P9.95 billion and P6.89 billion, respectively.