MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday that the decision to relocate the airport in Tacloban to another area in Leyte was based on a study of the movement of storm surges, and that there was no politics involved in the matter.
Coloma explained that the study, which analyzed the behaviour of storm surges in areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda, revealed that that the airport’s location in Tacloban makes it susceptible to the ravages of extreme weather conditions, such as flooding.
“If it gets flooded, it will require cleaning. While the cleaning is being done, it is not possible to land there and the distribution of immediate relief will be affected,” Coloma said in an interview
“The study is based on experience and based on science. It was not tainted with politics,” he stressed.
The transfer of Tacloban’s Daniel Z. Romualdez airport, considered as the gateway to the Eastern Visayas region, was recommended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as disclosed by President Aquino on Friday.
The agency recommended that the facility be relocated to either Sante Fe or Palo.
Not everyone, however, is convinced that the airport needs to be transferred.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez expressed his opposition to the relocation.
He added that the P12-billion price tag attached to the cost of reconstruction should be spent, instead, on helping survivors of Typhoon Haiyan; as he pointed out that the national government is struggling with the task of building houses for those displaced by the supertyphoon.
The mayor also expressed his doubts as to the alleged recommendation of JICA to transfer the airport.
In a recent briefing with members of the press, Romualdez said: “Does it really only take months to study whether we have to transfer the airport? I’m just curious and who did the study? Just one outfit? And the problem, JICA texted me, I have communication from JICA that they are not doing any study. In fact, their recommendation is to retain the airport.”
In similar manner, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez voiced his dissent to the plan of relocation. He stated that experts have recommended that the existing facility be upgraded, but remain in its current location.
“I don’t want to think that this is a political-inspired proposition, but he (Aquino) should focus on projects that would be done during his term,” Rep. Romualdez said.