The newly established Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA) is among Bohol’s economic jewels seen to usher in a new age of progress in the province. This was rightfully highlighted by Governor Edgar Chatto during his final State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Thursday.
Although the P9-billion airport was constructed and completed during Chatto’s nine-year administration, the governor did not take sole credit for it as he thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, former president Benigno Aquino III and previous governors for the facility’s completion.
“We thank his excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation, NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and the national agencies and officials who helped in the realization of this dream including former President Benigno Aquino III and key officials under his administration,” Chatto said.
“The realization of this project stands the administrations of five governors, especially Governor Constancio Nonoy Torralba who first dreamed of it, including Governor David B. Tirol, Governor Rene Relampagos, and Governor Erico Aumentado,” he added.
Chatto, who highlighted his achievements during the SOPA, said that growth experienced in the past years was expected to be sustained, if not surpassed, with the opening of the BPIA, which has been projected to draw more investments to the province.
“The latest number from the Department of Tourism was at 1.4 million tourists for 2018…There has been a corresponding increase in the number of accommodation facilities, increasing air passenger traffic, increasing number of flights. With the operation of the Bohol Panglao International Airport, we can be certain for these figures to increase even further,” he said.
Establishing an airport at Panglao Island was first conceptualized by Torralba in the late 1980s, but it was under the Aumentado administration that the materialization of the idea actually gained steam.
Aumentado drew the support of then-President Gloria Macapagal. She led a capsule-laying ceremony for the then-P4.17-billion project in Barangay Tawala in May, 2008.
The project however was stalled after it was rocked with controversy and allegations of corruption.
It was only during the term of Aquino that it moved with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) green-lighting the construction through a resolution issued two years into Aquino’s term in 2012.
During the latter part of Aquino’s presidency, the BPIA was being constructed but at a sluggish pace, missing its first completion deadline of December, 2017.
The facility was finally inaugurated in November last year under the Duterte administration which prioritized the infrastructure project and expedited its completion.
The BPIA is 10 times bigger than the now-defunct Tagbilaran airport and boasts of a 2,500-meter runway and an apron that can accommodate seven airplanes at a time.
Dubbed as the country’s first eco-airport, the BPIA also features environmentally sustainable structures and green technology.
The facility is expected to be turned over to the Aboitiz Group within the year if the holding firm’s infrastructure arm Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. (AIC) is given approval by the NEDA.
AIC was given an original proponent status by the Department of Transportation in September last year for maintenance, operations and future expansion of the airport after submitting an unsolicited proposal.
The AIC has also submitted the same unsolicited proposal for the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.
“We were granted original proponent status (OPS) by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the Bohol-Panglao on September 3, 2018. We are hopeful that the government will allow us to operate these two regional gateways this year,” AIC Chief Operating Officer Cosette Canilao said in a statement last month.
Meanwhile, low-cost carrier Philippines AirAsia has expressed its intent to make the BPIA one of its airline hubs.
AirAsia officials led by COO Logan Velaitham met with Chatto earlier this month to present their plans for the BPIA.