The government is spending close to P2 billion to build an airport in Don Carlos town in Bukidnon province that it plans to operate starting 2023.
Once operational, it would cut short the travel time of residents who have to endure long land trips to neighboring regions just to catch a plane.
For Bukidnon residents, air travel now means going first to the Laguindingan International Airport in Misamis Oriental, Francis Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, or the Awang Airport in Cotabato City.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, whose father Jose Maria is Bukidnon’s governor, said the Don Carlos airport’s runway is expected to be finished in 2022 while its terminal would be completed in 2023.
Its feasibility study, however, showed that the airport is projected to be fully completed in 2026.
The Bukidnon Airport Development Project, located in Barangay Maraymaray in Don Carlos, is one of the flagship projects of the government in Northern Mindanao, with a P1.816-billion budget.
It is about 7.3 kilometers away from the town’s highway and sits on a 149-hectare property.
Maraymaray used to be the site of an airstrip that was used decades ago.
Once operational, officials said, the airport will accommodate aircraft such as the ATR-72 and Q400 fleet of competing airlines.
The Bukidnon Provincial Engineer’s Office said the airport project’s first phase is the concreting of a 1,260-meter-long runway, pipe conduits, box culverts, and the construction of an apron for the north and south taxiways.
Provincial Engineer Albert Yulo told Rappler on Thursday, November 25, that about P475 million was downloaded to the Department of Transportation for the project that was awarded by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to Pampanga-based Eddmari Construction and Trading last June.
Initially, the government set aside P630 million for the project, sourced from its 2017 and 2019 annual budgets.
Yulo said the project began three years ago, but there were delays due to issues involving informal settlers and ancestral domain claims.
As of October, about P98 million had already been spent to relocate affected residents and compensate those with ancestral domain claims, he said.
Yulo said the second phase, costing P74 million, includes clearing and grubbing works of a landslide area. It started in October and is eyed for completion on or before December 5.
He said the third phase, which is the construction of a 390-meter runway, is scheduled to start on December 13.
The Regional Project Monitoring Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority in Northern Mindanao said the Department of Public Works and Highways has already constructed 72.83% of two-lane roads to the airport in the towns of Kalilangan, Kadingilan, Kibawe, and Don Carlos. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.