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Commentary: In another part of the province...

Dagupan City (21 February) -- President Arroyo, at last Saturday's inauguration of the Binalonan airfield owned by the Guicos, was diplomacy in verbiage personified when she simply proclaimed that a bigger more modern airport will be built "in another part of the province" using the Binalonan event as reference point.

She could have mentioned either Alaminos City (which city of Mayor Hernani Braganza she had anyway sometime last year mentioned as the site for the project) or Sta. Barbara, a serious 'bidder' for the same project (and made Mayor Rey Velasco jump with joy) but she didn't. She was obviously only too aware of the political overtones and undertones of such a categorical statement and opted to be deliciously vague about it, at least for the moment.

She said she was leaving it up to the Department of Transportation and Communications which handles airport site identification with the Air Transportation Office to make the recommendations -- indeed the safest passage she could ever take on that one.

Braganza, who was in the audience, obviously was pleased with that. He it was after all who has had to suffer the hurt of being rebuffed wholesale by his own fellow mayors when they sometime back appealed to the President herself to consider other areas particularly Sta. Barbara as site for the airport project mainly for its being located centrally and its proximity to the main urban centers of Dagupan and Urdaneta.

From all indications, we believe the game, this far, is a waiting one.

Apart from the fact that feasibility studies for projects of this nature has a long gestation period, there's the very real fact of the Binalonan airport she had just inaugurated staring the competing local executives in the face : Just a few hundred meters of runway extension for Ramon Guico III's aviation school airstrip and commercial cargo planes can already fly and touch down in Pangasinan. With a little more incentives from government, the private airfield can quite easily convert itself to a more or less regular airport, given time and resources.

But because the President says there will be an airport "in another part of Pangasinan," the hopes (of Mayors Braganza and Velasco spring eternal. Pangasinenses, in general, certainly, have been hankering for the "ultimate thrill" of being able to ride on an airplane from their own backyard going to other places in the archipelago, the way most others in Clark, Manila, Baguio, Laoag and the South are accustomed to do anytime.

Land travel thru the decades, you see, can be boring.

An airport certainly will break the "lethargy of a thousand years" for this province. (PIA-Pangasinan) (PIA) [top]

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