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Davao City, Philippines

DOTr fast-tracks PH airports but Davao City waiting in the sidelines

August 15, 2019 - Thursday 4:08 PM by Lovely Carillo

Article Banner Image WAITING IN LINE. While the Department of Transportation (DOTr) fast-tracks the construction and rehabilitation of several airports in the Philippines, the Davao City International Airport waits in the sidelines. Story on Page 2. ARJOY M. CENIZA


DOTr said a total of 17 commercial airport projects have been completed, with 28 more ongoing, during the first three years under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

DAVAO CITY -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is now fast-tracking the construction and rehabilitation of several airports in the Philippines, including some airports in Mindanao, to improve interconnectivity within and outside the Philippines. However, the Davao City International Airport is definitely not included in the list as confirmed by President Rodrigo Duterte himself during last month’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Among the airports being fast-tracked are those in Sangley Point in Cavite, Antique, Mati City, Surigao City, and Bulacan which are set to begin before the end of the year. DOTr said a total of 17 commercial airport projects have been completed, with 28 more ongoing, during the first three years under the administration of President Duterte.

Antique airport

Contributed photo

At the top of the list of the airports being fast-tracked is the Antique Airport. Verzontal Construction started the airport development project in December 2016 with a target completion date of August 2020.

“We have requested the contractor to fast-track the development of the Antique Airport to efficiently serve the region. To do this, we need the augmentation of workers and equipment, and extend the working hours from 8 to 12 hours,” DOTr Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Manuel Antonio Tamayo said.

The Philippine News Agency reported that Tamayo and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Area 2 Cluster Manager Efren Nagrama met with Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao and Deputy House Speaker Loren Legarda during the inspection of the airport on August 3, 2019.

The airport development project includes the construction of a new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB), apron, taxiway, fire station building, power house, administration building, perimeter and security fence, vehicle parking area, and staff house. They hope that it will be completed by June 2020, two months ahead of the original completion date.

During the meeting, Legarda recommended the installation of solar panels, a vertical garden, rain catchment system, and non-corrosive materials for the airport. There is also a plan to extend the runway from 1,430 meters to 1,800 meters to accommodate jet operations.

Legarda has pledged to work on the additional funding of at least P150 million for the runway extension. Her son Leandro Leviste also committed to provide the solar panel system free of charge.

“We will ensure that this airport will be upgraded on or before its target date so that we may deliver to the people of Antique the service and facility that they have long been yearning for,” Tugade said.

Surigao City airport

Contributed photo

Tugade also urged contractors Pacific Concrete Products and VT Lao Construction to fast-track the repair of Surigao City airport’s runway which was damaged by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake in February 2017. 

At present, only 1,000 meters from the standard 1,700-meter runway is being used, with one airline company operating in the airport. The 1,400-meter runway is, however, expected to be finished by November in order to accommodate the projects increase in air passenger traffic during the Christmas season. The entire 1,700-meter runway is expected to be completed by February 2020.

total of P123 million has been allocated by the government for the project. It was suggested that the contractors should set-up a concrete plant and batching plant near the airport to avoid delays in the construction.

“It is true that there is a delay in this project, but as the secretary has said, the original contract duration is February 2020 and that is non-negotiable. We are looking for ways to really make that happen. We will deliver within the same period of time regardless of the delay,” DOTr Assistant Secretary Giovanni Lopez said during a surprise visit and inspection at the site.

Mati City airport

MAKEOVER. The DOTr has allotted P200 million for the completion of the terminal building, runway, and fencing around the airport in Mati City. Kenneth Paul Senarillos

Another airport in Mindanao is up for rehabilitation after DOTr earmarked P200 million for the rehabilitation of Mati City Airport in Davao Oriental. Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said the airport may be operational by 2020.

Included in the rehabilitation works are the terminal building, extension of the runway, and fencing around the airport.

“If it will be operational, more jobs will be offered to the people here since we will be expecting an influx of tourist arrivals,” Dayanghirang said even as he assured settlers living near the airport that they will not be affected by the rehabilitation.

Dayanghirang committed to sign an Executive Order that will create a task force that will facilitate negotiations with the settlers.

He said despite the airport’s current condition, tourist arrivals during the first quarter of the year has already reached the 400,000 mark. Records show up to 800,000 tourists visited the province during the previous year.

“How much more if the airport will be operational? That’s why we plan to build an inland resort to add attraction to the tourists” Dayanghirang said.

The Mati Airport, which was built in the 1970s, used to be known as the Imelda R. Marcos Airport and is the only airport in Davao Oriental.

Davao City International Airport

MINDANAO’S BUSIEST. The Davao City International Airport is the busiest airport in Mindanao, with various local and international direct flights. LOVELY CARILLO

Amidst all these, the Davao City International Airport is in bad shape and in need of modernization and rehabilitation works to the tune of at least P40 billion. Hopes had been high considering that Davao is Duterte’s “Exhibit A” or showcase having been its mayor for 20 years before he was elected president, but Duterte himself doused this hope.

It can be recalled that an “original proponent status” has already been granted to Davao-based Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corporation under Dennis Uy in May last year. The company submitted an unsolicited proposal for the operation, maintenance, and expansion of the airport.

“Davao will be the last of the airports that will be developed during my term,” Duterte said during his 4th SONA last month. But more than being placed at the tailend, Duterte even apologized to the Davaoeños and said the modernization of the Davao airport will not happen under his term.

Duterte said he has decided to put on hold the airport’s modernization due to “delicadeza” and to avoid being called out for playing favorites.