Local officials and representatives of both the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have considered the development of the airport in Mati City, Davao Oriental into the one that can accommodate bigger airplanes.
In a meeting on Monday, based on the information from the Davao Oriental provincial government, the agreement was to continue with the initially-approved P200 million rehabilitation of the airport and to also to include the runway development so that it could accommodate bigger airplanes like Airbus.
This developed as the implementation of the airport development needs to be done before the end of the year so that the budget set aside for it will not be reverted to the general fund.
The initial plan was that to rehabilitate the airport and to develop its system for Class 3C operations, or allowing only turbo-propelled aircraft to land.
Because of the change of plan, however, there is a need to acquire another 27 hectares to expand the runway and will be added present 34 hectares for the terminal building an the initial runway.
One big issue that has yet to be settled is how to acquire the property, both the present parcel of land and the additional lot, although the property owners, the Rabat and Rocamora families, have agreed to support the project.
Rep. Joel Mayo Z. Almario of the Second District of Davao Oriental said during the meeting that the is a need to immediately look into how to fast-track the project considering that there is only about two months before the fund is reverted to the National Treasury.
“The importance of the airport cannot be overemphasized because we are addressing the tourism concerns and we feel that if we leave Mati as it is, it will be difficult to make Mati fully develop because of the province’s geographical location,” Almario said.
Last year, the national government appropriated P10 million for the fence and that this year, it also set aside P200 million for the expansion of the airport. Under the law, however, the funding will be reverted to the general funds if it remains unutilized during the year that it is appropriated.
Based on the project details, to be improved are the terminal building, the setting up of arrival and departure areas, the setting up of a fire station and a parking area.
Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang said the operation of the airport is necessary to open up the province to tourists. “We have a lot of destinations to offer in terms of tourism which can be maximized if we could offer our tourists an alternative and inviting means to reach us,” said Dayanghirang.
Next week, the provincial government is sending a team to japan to submit its application to declare the province as among those having the most beautiful bays in the world.
Built about 40 years ago during the time of the late governor Francisco G. Rabat, the airport was named as Imelda Marcos, in honor of the wife of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, a close friend of the late governor.