The Bacolod-Silay Airport may be able to receive international flights at last.
This is because President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Departments of Transportation and Communication, Bureau of Immigration and other concerned agencies to install customs immigration and quarantine (CIQ) processing centers for the operation and handling of direct international flights of seven airports in the country. The Bacolod-Silay Airport is one of them.
In a memorandum dated January 14 Secretary Jose Rene Almendras of the Office of the President said that the President, in a meeting, also on January 14, instructed the agencies concerned to establish CIQ processing centers that will process new and incoming tourists in the Bacolod - Silay Airport and the airports of Puerto Princesa, Laguindingan, Tagbilaran, Legazpi, Iloilo and Kalibo.
The memorandum was addressed to Transportation and Communication Emilio Joseph Abaya, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Environment and Natural ResourcesSecretary Ramon Paje, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon, and Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr.
Almendras also requested the agencies concerned to come up with a plan on how to establish the QIC processing center and identifying the resources needed due to its urgency.
He said they will call for an inter-agency meeting on the first week of February to further discuss and consolidate their plans to be endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management for appropriate funding.
DOTC Operations Monitoring Service Director Maria Cecilia Natividad also issued a memorandum to Lt. Gen. William Hotchkiss III, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General, asking him to submit to the DOTC Secretary a list of airport resources that CAAP may need on or before Friday.
Bacolod City Administrator John Orola yesterday said this is a very good development for the city and province as the President himself saw the need to address this concern which will truly help advance the tourism industry in the province.
Orola, chairman of the Western Visayas Tourism Council, and former attaché to Japan, said they will work the matter out and follow it up with the agencies concerned.
Earlier he had written Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. for his immediate assistance and intervention when only two out of the 10 chartered flights from South Korea were allowed to land at the Bacolod- Silay airport early this month..
Mode Tour Network Inc., organizers of the 10 Zest Air chartered flights, carrying mostly golfers from Korea, that were set to directly land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, canceled eight, after Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. denied a request of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia to provide immigration services at the airport, citing manpower and equipment restrictions.
Leonardia had written David that the Department of Tourism Iloilo was willing to loan the Bacolod-Silay Airport its computers with passport reading mechanism, yet the latter denied the Mayor’s request twice.
The two chartered flights from Korea arrived on January 11 and 14 carrying 256 Korean golfers and tourists.
A manifesto appealing to local and national leaders, both in the executive and legislative departmentsto declare the Bacolod-Silay Airport an international airport, was signed by tour operators and other tourism stakeholders in Negros Occidental last week.
The group also asked that the Bacolod-Silay Airport be provided the required customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) system.*CGS