TAGUM CITY, DAVAO DEL NORTE — The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCI) has endorsed Davao City as the main international gateway for Mindanao and called for the development of a bigger airport.
On the sidelines of the Mindanao Business Conference here last week, Samie C. Lim, PCCI vice president for retail and tourism, said it is important to have an identified hub for Mindanao to serve as an anchor in the promotion of tourism.
“What must be done is for Mindanao to have a single international gateway, not each city vying to have one because, if that is the case, the government budget will be split,” Mr. Lim said.
The Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also called Davao International Airport (DIA), has been lined up for development since the previous administration, but the planned auction for a public-private partnership project has been put on hold.
The Duterte administration previously announced that it is looking at funding the project through treasury funds.
With DIA having limited space for expansion, there have been discussions at the regional level for the development of a new airport. Among the sites floated were Samal Island and Tagum City.
Mr. Lim said with Davao City already established as Davao Region’s commercial center, both the business sector and the government should work together in identifying a property for a bigger airport facility.
He acknowledged that identifying the site and the planning would take a “very long process,” and said it should be started soon.
Mr. Lim added that it does not “have to be government (that finances it) as there are private companies willing to do it.”
“There are companies that cannot bag projects in Metro Manila and that these companies, which are awash with money, can be invited to invest here,” he said.
At the same time, the PCCI official said infrastructure for “seamless connectivity” between the city and other Mindanao destinations must be developed, along with other tourism facilities, attractions, activities such as festivals, and even medical services.
Mr. Lim said the PCCI is currently working on raising $20 million that will be invested particularly for tourism projects in 20 destinations around the country, including the cities of Tagum and Davao.
The business sector, through the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., has also been pushing for the development of a bigger airport as well as the creation of a management agency that will be independent from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. — Carmelito Q. Francisco