THE PRIVATE owners of the land where the Mati City airport is located have given their final consent, paving the way for the commercial opening and expansion of the facility, according to a city official.
“Right now, they are finalizing ng mga documents, all the heirs have already signed, for both the Rocamoras and Rabat (families),” Vice Mayor Glenda Rabat-Gayta said in an interview during the opening of the 15th Cityhood Day of Mati and the 19th Pujada Bay Festival on June 13.
“It’s just a matter of time. You know how documentation is… I think they are targeting (to finalize the papers) before the end of this month, before the turnover to the next administration,” she said.
Mati City, the capital of Davao Oriental province, is located about 182 kilometers west of Davao City, where the Francisco Bangoy International Airport is located. A land trip from Davao to Mati takes an average of 3.5 to 4 hours.
The rehabilitation and development of the Mati airport, built in the 1980s, started in 2019 with an initial P200-million fund from the national government. The facility was designed just for small aircraft.
Under a plan approved by local officials, the Department of Transportation, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the airport’s runway will be expanded to accommodate bigger planes, which would require at least another 27 hectares. The terminal building will also have to be improved while basic facilities such as a fire station and parking area will have to be constructed.
Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who is returning to Congress after winning in May as House representative, has said that the airport would boost tourism and investments in the province.
“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,” he said.
Davao Oriental’s popular tourist destinations include the Dahican Beach in Mati, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan, and Aliwagwag Falls, among others.
Meanwhile, the Mati local government assured that it is continuously strengthening efforts to protect Pujada Bay, one of three bays in the city included in the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Association (MBBWA) since 2020.
Mayo and Balete Bays are the other two recently included in the list.
Pujada Bay is also declared under Philippine law as a Protected Landscape and Seascape.
Ms. Rabat-Gayta said one of the priority areas they are focusing on is waste management involving the coastal communities.
“We are really boosting our campaign on waste management and other programs by partnering with the communities because we thought that the best way to solve this concern is to involve the communities so that they can be part of the solution,” she said.
One of the criteria for inclusion in the MBBWA list is community involvement in environmental protection. — Maya M. Padillo