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Top officials push for Mati airport reopening

The Davao Oriental provincial government and its capital, Mati City have pushed for the reopening of the Mati airport as among their plans of enhancing tourism potentials of the province.

Last week, Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang said he will issue an executive order that will establish a body to facilitate the opening of the airport even as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has started discussions with the property owners as the donation of the land where the airport was set up has not been consummated.

Dayanghirang added that the Department of Tourism has set aside P200 million to rehabilitate the airport, although he and the national agency have yet to release the specific programs for the airport.

“Both the provincial and the city government believe that the reopening of the airport will bring more opportunities for the growth of Mati and the province,” said Dayanghirang in an electronic mail sent to TIMES by the provincial government.

A press statement from the city government over the weekend, through Mayor Michelle Denise N. Rabat confirmed that the reopening of the airport is among her priority programs as she believes that “it is necessary that the city has an airport facility if it wants to attract more tourists and investor.”

Rabat’s family as well as their relatives, the Rocamoras, are the owners of the lot, although she did not mention in her statement whether the controversy over the land ownership has been resolved.

She said her government “is creating a tourism council that will help boost the tourism industry in the city,” she added.

Built during the time of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos and named after his wife Imelda, the airport has been abandoned both due to the absence of traffic and its proximity to the Francisco Bangoy International Airport here.

But Dayanghirang said the reopening is necessary to complement the programs of both governments to enhance their tourism industry.

Although he did not mention the capital outlay, Dayanghirang added that among the key programs that the provincial government is implementing is the construction of an inland resort as well as an 800-person capacity convention center.

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