By Joey Natividad
DARAGA, Albay (BicolToday.com/22-May-12) – Right after suspected rebels on Friday night (May 18) harassed a military detachment guarding an international airport under construction and burned 11 heavy equipment being used in its construction, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda treated the incident as “temporary and minor setback.”
Two units of NPA guerrillas harassed the construction site of the Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga, Albay on Friday night. The first team attacked a nearby military detachment, wounding two government troopers, while another NPA team in black fatigues burned 11 heavy equipment being used in the construction of the airport.
Burned at the construction site were 4 bulldozers at Php1.6m each, 2 payloaders at P8.5m each, 1 pison (road roller) at P3.5m, 1 backhoe at P8.5m, 2 articulated equipment at P16.5m each, and 1 grader at P8.5m each. The airport, guarded by an army patrol base, is located some 1.5m kilometers from Villahermosa camp of the 901st Army brigade.
The 11 heavy equipment burnt was worth P76.5m.
The rebel attack was believed to divert ongoing military pressures in rebels lairs in nearby Sorsogon province. Reliable sources said the the burning of the heavy equipment was “sanction” for refusal by the contractor to pay “revolutionary taxes” demanded by the rebel group.
According to Governor Salceda, “the Provincial Government of Albay and the Regional Development Council V believe in the commitment and the capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in providing security to strategic installations and infrastructure vital to the development of the Bicol Region.”
“The international airport is critical to the achievement of 650,000 foreign tourists in Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate by 2016. In the short-term, with Legazpi airport, now being served by 11 flights, it is critical to avoid the 22% cancellation rate in 2011 due to bad weather, while the existing airport could not be fitted with ILS due to its location while sundown restriction curtails flight options,” said the Governor.
He said DOTC Sec. Mar Roxas has approved last week the realignment of P2 B of the unspent P8.5 B PPP fund in 2011 to accelerate the SLIA development. Another P2 B is expected to be budgeted in 2013 to allow the completion of the airport by end-2014
“This incident will not move back the completion target date of end-2014 for the airport,” said Salceda. [BicolToday.com]
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