Bulacan airport offers biggest ‘ray of hope’ for migrant workers

Migrant workers have lauded San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for its international airport project in Bulacan which can generate substantial and productive jobs and livelihood for thousands of Filipinos including those who lost their overseas employment to the pandemic.

Blas F. Ople Policy Center president Susan Ople said the bold move of SMC “to push through with the airport project amid the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 has become the biggest ray of hope not only for the people of Bulacan but also for our OFWs and other displaced workers.”

A former Malacanang official and resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan, Ople said that aside from providing jobs and livelihood, the project would address the perennial flooding problem in coastal areas of their province.

“It doesn’t make sense to build an airport in a place where planes can’t even land because of constant flooding, so definitely this problem will be addressed by SMAI (a subsidiary of SMC) in partnership with the provincial government,” she noted.

Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP) official Danny Ricohermoso said the maritime sector supports  the new airport in Bulacan because it will create new jobs and help stimulate the economy. Once completed, it will also put the Philippines “firmly on the map as a tourism destination, an investment hub and a key player in the global market.”

Luther Calderon, founder of the Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino, Inc. (KAMPI), a non-profit organization that assists distressed OFWs, said the building of the new airport and its satellite airport city is a long-term solution to the aspiration of OFWs to return home and find local employment.

“With the sharp economic downturn affecting traditional labor markets, many of our OFWs yearn to come home and be reunited with their families. Massive infrastructure projects such as the building of a world-class airport in Bulacan gives them hope for the future,” Calderon said.

OFW leader Venecio Legaspi, in his capacity as director-general of the OFW Council of Leaders in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said the new airport would be a source of pride for OFWs who are tired of the usual congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“We have always dreamed of coming home to a world-class airport with multiple runways so we don’t need to be circling in the air for so long because of too much air traffic. We also long for an airport where our families can send us off or welcome us home with greater dignity and comfort,” he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment estimates that at least 346,555 OFWs have been adversely affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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