Governor Jose Alvarez, in his most direct criticism so far of the city government on Tuesday, blasted its decision to keep the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) closed, a policy that the administratively independent city government has justified as a continuing safety measure against COVID-19.
Gov. Alvarez had previously held back on negatively commenting on the matter but had pushed for the reopening of the two other alternate airports in northern Palawan under the province’s jurisdiction – the Coron and San Vicente airports – which he pointed out is already open to all domestic travel.
Responding to the issue during his media briefing Pakimanan ta si Gob, he insisted that the province of Palawan has also a stake in the opening of the international airport, as it caters not only to the city but to the entire province as well.
“Hindi nila pwedeng isara ang airport na yan. Ang airport ng Puerto Princesa City ay nagsisilbi sa lalawigan at syudad. Kung ayaw nila mag-open last December 18 that’s their lookout,” he said. Alvarez was referring to a petition of provincial-level travel associations seeking a December 18 re-opening of the international airport to regular domestic travel, which has so far not been acted upon by the city government.
City Mayor Lucilo Bayron had previously stated that the continued closure of the airport is a preventive measure to avoid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the city. The airport has so far remained operational only for special flights and cargo.
Alvarez dismissed Bayron’s recent statement stating that the city government no longer has sufficient funds to shoulder the cost of quarantine measures in case of a possible resurgence of the pandemic virus.
“Ang daming pera ng city. Napakarami nilang pera mas malaki pa IRA (internal revenue allotment) nila kesa sa probinsya pero ewan ko kung saan napupunta,” Alvarez said.