DAVAO City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) reiterated the need for the modernization of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport (Davao Airport) to increase trade and tourism.

This came following the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that Davao City will be the last in terms of upgrading airports during his State of the Nation Address (Sona 2019) Monday, July 23, 2019.

DCCCII president Arturo Milan said in a text message Tuesday, July 23, that there is a strategic importance to modernize the Davao Airport to contribute to the higher gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

“[This is] by way of increasing trade and tourism not only of Davao City but for the Davao Region and Mindanao as a whole,” he said.

Milan, however, added that he could understand the president as Duterte does not want to be accused of being bias since he is now the President of the Philippines and not the Mayor of Davao City.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), which has also been pushing for the Davao Airport’s modernization, is optimistic that the Duterte administration will still pursue the development.

Despite Duterte’s statement about the possibility that Davao Airport may not be upgraded during his term, Minda public relations head Adrian Tamayo said Tuesday that there were already initiatives to effect modernization so they still believe it will still be implemented during Duterte’s administration.

“PRRD knows also the urgency of the project given the expanding volume of passengers and cargoes coming and going out of Davao Airport,” Tamayo said.

”For one, the Davao-Manado flight which will boost business and tourism of the two cities is an expected air connectivity project to happen the soonest,” Tamayo said.

It has been a while since Minda and other sectors have been pushing for the improvement of the airport. Minda said it will significantly contribute to the development of the Mindanao and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) sub-region.

Minda deputy executive director Romeo Montenegro, for his part, said Davao Airport improvement, which is currently being proposed by a private entity, “will have to proceed based on its merits, viability, and the attendant timelines.”