THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said 120 airport projects, which include rehabilitation, expansion and upgrade works, have been completed by the current government.

The DoTr provided this latest tally four days after an infographic released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on the achievements of President Rodrigo R. Duterte included “64 airports.” There was no explanation in the infographic whether the 64 airports were built or upgraded during the first half of the President’s term.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles clarified in an interview with ANC on Tuesday that the “64 airports” were not built during the President’s term. He added that what the PCOO’s infographic meant was “projects that were done with 64 airports all over the country.”

“The latest is that 120 airport projects have been completed as of today,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran told BusinessWorld in a phone interview Wednesday.

She said the “64 airport projects” could have been derived from the department’s 2018 data.

Based on updated data that Ms. Libiran submitted to PCOO on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by BusinessWorld, there were 75 locally-funded airport projects and another 45 under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) that were completed from 2016 to 2019.

Among the projects completed in 2019 are the expansion of the terminal building of General Santos City Airport, construction of Lingayen Airport’s apron, grading of Butuan Airport’s runway slide strip, completion of Ipil Airport’s concrete runway, and Marinduque Airport’s runway strip grade correction, among others.

On Jan. 8, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade signed a memorandum of agreement to “intensify infrastructure development that will support the development and promotion of tourism circuits across the country.”

Under the agreement, both departments will prioritize airport development programs in support of tourism development areas, monitor the progress of airport projects in such areas, and explore, develop and increase the value proposition of destinations “for sustainable tourism through the productive utilization of airport assets and route development.”

The DoT has said its target of 9.2 million international visitors this year is driven by more airport development projects which allow tourists to bypass Manila’s congested airport. — Arjay L. Balinbin