09 December 2016

Duterte leads groundbreaking of Bicol International Airport
President Rodrigo Duterte led on Thursday the laying of time capsule for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay.

“I am happy that we are laying the ground for your airport. Masuwerte kayo. Kayo lang ang may dalawang airport,” President Duterte said in a chance interview with reporters following the event.

“In the fullness of God’s time, maybe I can get a railroad for you,” he added eliciting applause from several Bicolano officials who accompanied him led by Albay’s Second District Representative Joey Salceda.

The upcoming Bicol International Airport will have a 2.30 kilometer runway which conforms to world standards and has a capacity to accommodate larger aircraft. It will be the second airport that will cater the Bicol Region aside from the Legazpi International Airport located in Legazpi, the capital city of Albay.

Duterte said he expects the new Bicol International Airport to be operational in two to three years.

“Two to three years basta walang corruption,” he said.

During the media interview, the Chief Executive also addressed several pressing issues in the country.

Asked on the ongoing peace process with the Communist group, Duterte maintained that he would not agree to release the more than 130 political prisoners.

“I have conceded to the communists too much too soon. As yet, I have to see a substantive progress to the talks. They are asking for 130 detainees to be released, all NPAs. Sorry, I cannot do that,” he said.

“I want a document that would be honored because that would be under the auspices of Norway and with the participation of the Norwegian. It’s a signed document that there is an agreement for a ceasefire for an indefinite period until such time that we can sort out things and maybe hopefully,” he added. ### PND

PH ready for Miss Universe
Two candidates for the Miss Universe Pageant which will be held in the country arrived on Friday, Dec. 9 and ten others are expected to come to do photo shoots that will showcase the country’s scenic places which will be aired during the event next year, Tourism Undersecretary Katherine Chloe de Castro said.

De Castro made the announcement in a press briefing in Malacanan, as she presented the two candidates for Miss Universe , Ms. USA Deshauna Barber and Ms. New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson to the media. Dawson is half Filipino.

Expected to arrive are candidates from Korea, China, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

De Castro said the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach of the Philippines will join the candidates in tours and activities from January 13 to 30, 2017.

De Castro said the candidates are scheduled to tour Siargao to surf, and to visit Cebu, Vigan, and Manila.

“This is just one of the ways for us to showcase to the world the hidden treasures of our country. A lot of the unknown destinations will be featured in the final show of the Miss Universe,” she said.

She also disclosed that for September alone, the country has already registered a total of 400,000 foreign arrivals. For every month, the country is now getting some 500k visitors more or less, she said.

De Castro expected the pageant to attract more tourists as well as the international media.

“Rest assured that all the islands will be well represented, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Millions will be watching and after the pageant, we are sure that the world, or the universe rather, will be thinking of one thing –that is the best time to visit the Philippines is now,” she said.

For her part, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Emily Padilla made the assurance that the DILG and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in partnership with other government agencies are prepared as far as security matters are concerned.

Padilla noted that this will be the third time that the Philippines will host the Miss Universe, considered as the most popular beauty contest in the world.

“We have managed to show the world already that we are capable of providing security to major events, like the Papal visit and the APEC, and now the ASEAN which will coincide with the Miss Universe, “ Padilla said.

Padilla said the security plans are in place, not just for Metro Manila, but even in provinces where contestants will be going to.

The government will mobilize its law enforcement forces to ensure that the Miss Universe staff, beauty contestants, and other foreign visitors will be safe while they are in our country, she said.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Traffic Engineering Center Chief Emilio Llavor expressed hope that similar to APEC and Papal visit, their agency can handle the traffic very well.

Superintendent Felipe Maragon from DILG also disclosed that roads will be kept open to the public during the pageant events and activities. “As of now po, wala pa po tayong plano na may mga streets na iko-close dahil ayaw po ng ating Presidente na madi-disrupt ‘yung daily routine ng ating mga kababayan.”###PND