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Bacolod City, PhilippinesSaturday, July 14, 2007
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GMA: Silay airport ready,
debate delaying opening


SILAY CITY -- The P4.3 billion New Bacolod-Silay Airport here is finished, but there is still a debate on when to open it, President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday.

The President said she would have come to inaugurate the Silay airport the same time she inaugurated the Iloilo International Airport last month if not for the debate.

"This is what I would like to consult the people of Bacolod and Negros Occidental about. This airport is finished but when shall we open it?" she asked.

"It can be opened now if you want to, technically, but, on the other hand, there are those who say from Bacolod that we should wait, at least, until the completion of the access road…in November," she said.

"Or we might even want to wait until the new diversion road to Bacolod is completed that would mean 2010," the president said, drawing laughter from the participants at the Infrastructure and Investment Conference of the Central Philippines Super Region at the New Bacolod Silay Airport here. Work on the expansion and cementing of the McKinley Road that leads to the Silay airport is still underway and yesterday the President's convoy experienced driving through the dust to and from the airport.

Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon, Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson (Neg, Occ., 3rd district), Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Silay Mayor Jose Montelibano are set to meet Sunday to discuss the airport opening. But Montelibano said the consensus of the majority of the Negros officials is to open the airport when the access road is completed in November, noting that the president wants it opened as soon as possible.

Montelibano said he is meeting investors today who are interested in putting up an LRT from Silay to Bacolod City.

The Silay airport has a 2,000-meter runway but Puentevella said a 500 meter extension will be made to allow large international planes to land, too.

Work on the 500 meter extension that will cost P285 million can be done even if the airport begins operations, Puentevella said he was assured.

The 500-meter extension work could begin in January and be completed by October next year, he said.

Arroyo said it is called the New Bacolod-Silay Airport because even if it is located in Silay, in all the international codes they call it Bacolod airport.

The president yesterday also thanked Gov. Joseph Marañon and Kabankalan Mayor Pedro Zayco for the building of the Kabankalan airport on which civil works will start in October.

This will allow us to access the Mediterranean ambiance of the Sipalay beaches, she said.

The president also said the Dumaguete City airport runway is also being upgraded so that electronics firms can be encouraged to locate in Oriental Negros.*CPG

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