Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go vowed to help accelerate the release of funds for the damaged Surigao airport, and other infrastructures that have not been repaired after a strong earthquake that hit Surigao del Norte early last year.
Go was in Surigao City on Sunday as guest of honor in this year’s Bonok-Bonok Festival, where he thanked Surigaonons for their support to President Rodrigo Duterte, who won by a landslide in this province in the 2016 elections.
Go said he will speak with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to fast-track the repair of the local airport. A portion of the airport’s runway cracked during the 6.7 magnitude tremor that shook the city and neighboring towns last February 10.
“I will personally talk to Secretary Tugade tomorrow to accelerate the process,” he said, noting that funds are already “being processed” for the airport’s repair. He added that repair for other damaged infrastructures such as roads and bridges will also be given priority.
The 150-meter damaged portion of the runway has caused the stoppage of Manila-bound flights in the city, forcing residents to use the longer–and more expensive–Cebu-Manila route. The continued disrepair eventually led the Philippine Airlines to stop its Cebu flights early this year, leaving only one Cebu-bound flight from another airline.
Councilor Rise Faith Recabo said the delayed airport repair has already taken a toll on the local economy.
“The airfare is understandably higher because only one airline is left to service the Surigao-Cebu flight. Local passengers must either travel to Butuan or Siargao for the Manila flight. It’s a massive hassle,” Recabo said.
Recabo also thanked Go for committing to fast-track the installation of luminaries for a multi-million road project that has languished for two years already.
“Residents have been complaining for years why the streets are dark, which led to several road accidents and even the rise of criminality,” she said.
Go said he will call the attention of Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar in addressing the problem.
Meanwhile, Go said his office will also establish a Malasakit Center at the provincial hospital to cater to the elderly and indigents.
Go said the center is a one-stop shop comprised of different agencies for senior citizens and poor patients, who need assistance on medical expenses. (PNA)