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Bacolod City, PhilippinesThursday, June 14, 2007
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Silay airport
inauguration August

CABATUAN, Iloilo - President Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday called it the "the most modern and beautiful airport in the Philippines," and said the Iloilo airport is "a shining example of the best that is yet to come for the Filipino people."

With the new airport, she also said, Iloilo will also become a major investment destination. She also announced that the new airport in Silay City in Negros Occidental will also be inaugurated in August.

The 188-hectare airport boasts of state-of-the-art facilities including a three-storey passenger terminal, control tower building, cargo terminal and landing and navigation systems.

It will have a runway measuring 2,500 m x 45 m and apron of 42,200 sq m capable of accommodating six aircrafts at one time.

The new airport will maintain the 22 incoming and outgoing domestic flights being serviced by the old airport in Mandurriao District in Iloilo City. No international flights have been scheduled so far.

The P8.759 billion-airport straddling the towns of Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan was constructed by the Taisei-Shimizu Joint Venture.

The project is funded by the Special Yen Loan Package of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said the Iloilo airport's facilities are more modern compared to international airports that are now operating in Manila, Cebu and Davao. Nilo Jatico, Assistant Secretary of the Air Transportation Office, said the airport's facilities include a modern structural design, more spacious aero bridge that connects the pre-departure area to the planes, and lighting system that maximizes natural light to illuminate the building spaces.

Tourism Undersecretary Salvador Sarabia Jr. said the opening of the new airport will boost tourist arrivals for Western Visayas and will serve as an attractive gateway for tourist destinations in the region.

"The Philippine economy is stable and strong and we can say after the last elections -- how peaceful it was, how stable the path we have set for economic reforms -- has not been upset by partisan elections," the President said in a speech minutes after her private plane landed at the airport.

The President said the country's recent positive economic performance has prompted creditors to offer funds for various projects.

She said that, with the available funds and revenues, her administration can push for its focus on "pro-growth, pro-trade and pro-investment strategies that will lift our people from poverty and make the Philippines finally in contention as a real investment destination."

"We broke the back of our lethargic economic legacy by a combination of sound fiscal measures and equally politically difficult decisions to make more revenue. Our economy has reached a new level of maturity with some of the strongest fundamentals in a generation," the President said.

After the airport inauguration, the President went to Guimaras Island where she inaugurated the library hub and elementary school building donated by Petron Corp.

She witnessed the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Petron and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (Seafdec) for the establishment of a mariculture livelihood program. She returned to the Cabatuan airport before leaving for Manila.*NB

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