By: AirTravellerPH Staff
A former Congressman requested House Speaker Allan Cayetano to conduct an inquiry on San Miguel Corporation's (SMC) Bulacan Airport, also known as the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) last Tuesday. Based on a report by PhilStar, Former Representative Fernando Hicap (Anakpawis Partylist) said that the 700-billion peso NMIA will have adverse environmental and socio-economic impact.
In the report, Hicap said, "We demand House Speaker Cayetano to look into the loopholes of Mr. Ramon Ang’s international airport project in Manila Bay that would threaten its biodiversity and the socioeconomic rights of thousands of its coastal population.”
The NMIA will be the center of the sprawling 2,500 hectar Bulacan Aerotropolis, located at Bulakan, Bulacan which is basically a coastal town. The airport itself will be constructed on top of water, hence, the need to dredge and reclaim more land. According to fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas or Pamalakaya, this may worsen flooding in Bulakan, nearby towns, and in Northern parts of Metro Manila.
According to Hicap, thousands of residents of Bulakenyos may even experience worse flooding due to typhoon and monsoon rains. He also said that the project will displace more than 700 fishing and coastline families relying on Manila Bay. Hicap said, “aside from the flooding and displacement, the congressional probe should cover the lack of ECC of the project and how it was approved without undergoing through the proper process.”
While the project will decongest the present Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which would allow airlines to increase capacity leading to more tourism and air travel to Metro Manila, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the people or Agham said, "reclaimed areas are highly vulnerable to storm surges, and liquefaction during earthquakes; and they increase flood risks inland. This is because such developments destroy the mangrove environment that mitigate the risks of the aforementioned geohazards.”
A new international gateway to Metro Manila is badly needed as NAIA is running beyond its capacity resulting to air traffic which lead to delayed flights. NAIA's present runway was actually built in the 1960s where originally, the present 13/31 was a military runway of Villamor Airbase. When the Manila Air Terminal which became the Manila International Airport after moving to its present location, runway 06/24 was built in perpendicular to 13/31 in the 1960s. The land surrounding the NAIA area was sold to developers who later on placed up villages like Merville and Moonwalk, hampering NAIA to add more runways in the future to accomodate more flights.
When a Xiamen Air Boeing 737 skidded off NAIA runway 06/24 which lead to its temporary closing, only runway 13/31 was available for use but only for narrowbody aircraft like the Airbus A320. All other aircraft approaching NAIA were diverted to Clark, Cebu, Davao, and Kalibo. Flights taking-off had to return back and a lot of flights were cancelled.
After this incident, the urgent need for a new gateway to Manila was pushed. Just last month, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and SMC President Ramon Ang finally signed the concession agreement for the NMIA. Construction may start by the end of this year.