The Bacolod Silay Airport is expected to be ready for direct flights from abroad next month, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said yesterday.
Senator Francis Escudero spoke with Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr., who asked for time to put the logistical requirements in place for it to become an international airport, Benitez said.
The Bureau of Immigration needs equipment and personnel, the solon said.
Escudero, who met with Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia at the Government Center yesterday, said he is donating P5 million to upgrade equipment at the Bacolod-Silay Airport to accommodate direct international flights.
Even if there are no flights from abroad coming in next month, the Bacolod-Silay Airport will be ready for international flights by then, Benitez said.
He also said David did not deny the requests for help at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, he was just asking for more time.
Ten direct flights from South Korea, scheduled to land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport in January and February, had been reduced to two because of the failure of the Bureau of Immigration to provide the personnel and equipment to process tourists, Bacolod City Administrator John Orola had said earlier.
The two flights that landed at the Bacolod-Silay Airport Friday and yesterday had to pass through Cebu first for immigration processing of their passengers.
However, Benitez said he was informed that 10 other flights from South Korea are expected to directly fly to the Bacolod-Silay Airport in June and July and, “It will be ready for them.”
Silay Mayor Jose Montelibano has asked President Benigno Aquino for the extension of the Bacolod-Silay Airport, and the request is moving under the regular process of government, Benitez said.
But international flights can still land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport even without the extension, as long as they are not 747s, Benitez said.
Senatorial candidate Grace Poe, who was with Escudero during his visit to the Government Center, said she will also help push for the Bacolod- Silay Airport to be able to accommodate direct flights from abroad.
The lack of immigration personnel is a shallow reason for flights from abroad not being able to directly land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, said Poe, who chairs the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
Even if government spends for the additional personnel, much more will be earned through tourism, she said.
The potentials of Negros Occidental to draw tourists must be supported, Poe said.*CPG