SAN ISIDRO -- The Provincial Government of Davao Oriental pushes for establishing an operating airport in Mati City to lure more tourists and investors in the area.
Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, in a speech during last Tuesday’s Asean landmark lantern lighting ceremony at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park in San Isidro, Davao Oriental that he already talked with President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the plan early this year.
“We are now working on developing and improving our tourism infrastructure from roads, to airports, ports and terminals. Hopefully, we can now revive our airport in Mati City,” he said.
Dayanghirang in an interview told reporters that the President committed to help realize the plan, in fact, a team from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) conducted an ocular inspection a month after the meeting with the President.
The Mati National Airport formerly known as Imelda R. Marcos Airport is located in Dahican, Mati City, its runway is now being used by Mindanao Saga Flying Club (MSFC).
“We already have an airport but it is not operating because the runway needs expansion and facilities need to be improved. At present, the airport cannot accommodate commercial flights, only chartered and light planes,” he said.
The airport only has a 1,628.85-meter runway.
He added that all necessary documents were already submitted to the Office of the President.
“After the Caap inspection, we have yet to receive updates from them. My plan now is to set another schedule of meeting with the President,” Dayanghirang said.
He emphasized that Davao Oriental has fast-becoming a tourism destination in the region, even with the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, with its islands to highlands and rich biodiversity and cultural sites.
The governor noted that the long-hour travel time from Davao to Mati City, which will take around three to five hours, is a setback for the province’s tourism industry.
“Three hours is too long, saying ang time nila, whereas if we have the airport, they’ll have more time to enjoy the province,” he said.
The Mati Airport’s terminal and apron sat on land owned by the Rabats, a political name in the city while the runway was on Rocamora family land.
The airport was constructed in 1970s with no deeds of donation executed.
Last 2013, reports have been circulating that plans of reviving the airport is in the pipeline.
Mati City Mayor Carlos Luis P. Rabat said in a previous report that operating the airport classified as secondary airport by Caap would take time due to land ownership issues.
The Mati airport was built during the time of the late mayor Francisco G. Rabat, the incumbent mayor’s uncle, who was a close friend of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The wives of the two late officials were the best of friends, the reason the airport was named after Mrs. Marcos.