One very important development that has escaped the attention of many Davaoenos possibly because of the people’s pre-occupation in watching the evolution of three major issues in the national scene was the passage by Congress of the bill converting the F. Bangoy International Airport into a Davao International Airport Authority (DIAA). This in effect, puts the local air gateway to the level similar to that of Mactan Airport in Cebu and of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila.
Being an Authority, the DIAA will be authorized to craft its own rules in handling its operation so as to make its services convenient to air passengers, cargo forwarders and other services the airport is allowed to provide under its charter.
We have no doubt that such development of Davao City’s main gateway will have a big impact on the economy of the entire Davao Region. In fact one of the strongest pushers of the conversion effort is the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) now under the leadership of Aboitiz company executive Art Milan and the Chamber’s very active Board of Trustees.
Somehow though, we failed to observe some jubilant welcome of the passage of the bill which we hope will be signed into law soon by the President. If at all there was, it was simply more as words of thanks to Congress. There were no grandiose pronouncements from the local government units in the Davao Region and other sectors that are most likely positively affected once the DIAA bill becomes a law.
We could only assume that the attention of people in this part of Mindanao was fixated on three national issues that have been hugging the headlines of broad sheets and broadcast news as well as social media accounts. These issues are the bruising fight for the House Speakership, the government handling of the alleged ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel, and lately the approval of a the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution to look into alleged bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Duterte administration.
The House leadership squabble is so heated that it took the President’s intervention to taper it down. But even as the President has made what seems a “win-win” proposition to break the impasse among his own supporters the intrigues never cease even until now.
So is the Duterte administration’s handling of the Recto Bank ramming incident that resulted to the abandonment at sea of Filipino fishermen by the Chinese fishing vessel that the Filipino crew initially claimed to have been intentionally done. The President’s critics and some people tagged as “experts” in maritime laws, incessantly described his handling of the issue as pro-China and not pro-Philippines. Their assertions went as far as saying that Duterte is a “traitor” to the country and that he has violated the Constitution.
Then last week came the report that the UNHRC member countries voted to have the alleged extra-judicial killings in the President’s anti-illegal drugs campaign investigated by the UN rights body. This again pre-occupied the attention of most Filipinos including Davaoenos because of the prominence given by news media, more specifically by those highly critical of Duterte, on the UN intervention.
All these three incidents somehow “buried” one development that to us is very important to the people in this part of the country – the approval by Congress of the bill creating the DIAA.
But of course we do not lose hope that such important congressional action will remain buried in the dust of political dynamics in a free country like the Philippines. There are ways to keep it above ground or make it afloat.
Say, why not the DCCCII and the Davao Airport management, as well as other stakeholders hold a joint press forum to present and discuss their plans on how the authority be made functional? Why not present the potential contribution of a DIAA to the total economic performance of the region and Davao City specifically?
Yes indeed, why should Davaoenos allow themselves to be distracted by the politics of people in “imperial Manila” and the green buck-paid “experts” if in the process it will contribute to the delay of the region’s own economic and social development?
Really we cannot be stopped in quoting modern philosopher Sam Levenson’s “If we want helping hands we can find it first in the tip of our own arms.” So, let those politicians and Duterte critics do their worst to unsettle a well-accepted administration (survey says) but Davaoenos must do their damnedest best to make that DIAA work to their advantage.