LOCAL OFFICIALS, together with representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), have decided to expand the development plan for the airport in Mati City, Davao Oriental to include a runway for bigger aircraft. In a meeting last week, the parties also agreed to push through with construction work using the approved P200 million rehabilitation fund for this year, according to a statement from the provincial government. The initial plan was to rehabilitate the airport and develop its system for Class 3C operations, which would allow for turbo-propelled aircraft operations. With the new plan, the government will have to acquire another 27 hectares in addition to the current 34 hectares that is enough for the terminal building and the shorter runway. The property owners, the Rabat and Rocamora families, have reportedly agreed to support the project. Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Joel Mayo Z. Almario stressed during the meeting that there 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. Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang said the operations of the airport is necessary to open up the province to more 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 Mr. Dayanghirang. — Carmelito Q. Francisco