Virac Airport Expansion

US$3-M Set Aside For Virac Airport Expansion

The national government has reportedly secured a US$3 million grant for the expansion of Virac airport as a key component of the tourism development program of the Camarines Sur provincial government.

virac, airport, catanduanesThis was announced last week by Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Assistant Secretary Cesar V. Sarmiento during an appearance at a gathering of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Catanduanes Chapter in Virac.

Assec. Sarmiento revealed that the positive development was spurred by the effort of the administration of Camarines Sur Governor L-Ray Villafuerte to secure funds for the construction of an international airport at Caramoran town. Villafuerte’s proposal, however, has been met with stiff opposition from Caramoan residents, notably one of its native sons, Msgr. Manolo de los Santos, as the project would affect hectares of farmlands.

The bishop of the Diocese of Virac reportedly wrote President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently, suggesting that instead of spending huge amounts for the Caramoan international airport, the national government should focus its efforts on expanding the existing Virac airport to accommodate jetliners.

It is said that Msgr. delos Santos told the president that it would be more advantageous to shift development to Virac, since travel time to the famed island resorts of Camarines Sur would be shorter from Catanduanes. It would likewise afford the tourists a day or two to explore the relatively pristine island paradise of Catanduanes, the letter stressed.

The president so liked the idea that she immediately penciled a note on the bishop’s letter, stating that the request had been approved and instructing the office of DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza to find possible funding sources for the project.

virac, airport, catanduanesSarmiento told the appreciate crowd of Red Cross officials and volunteers that he was called by his boss, who told him the good news that a grant of US$3 million has been secured by the department, with the project to be undertaken by a foreign construction firm. He pointed out that the forthcoming project augurs well for the full development of the tourism industry in Catanduanes which is still in its infancy.

He said that in just a few years, tourism arrivals in Camarines Sur has perked up considerably, buoyed by the operation of the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex at Pili town and the publicity generated by the shooting of a Survivor segment at the famed island resort of La Gota in Lagonoy Gulf. Catanduanes, he added, with its rich natural resources, verdant forests and surfing areas, would naturally benefit from being a byway and progress to attaining the status of a true tourist destination.

The DOTC official also disclosed that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has commenced the procurement of emergency telecommunications equipment for use in the disaster-prone province of Catanduanes, with delivery tentatively set this Dec. 15.

The ITU assistance, worth some US$80,000 or P3 million, came as a result of efforts of the administration of Governor Joseph C. Cua to strengthen its disaster preparedness efforts following the visit early this year of three ITU officials headed by Dr. Cosmas Zavazava.

source: Catanduanes Tribune - Dec 10 2008