Duterte inaugurates Bohol-Panglao International Airport

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, November 27, formally opened the Bohol-Panglao International Airport in Panglao Island.

The new airport replaced the Tagbilaran Airport, which officially closed Tuesday afternoon.

Beginning Wednesday, November 28, all flights going to Bohol will be transferred to the new airport, which is 40 minutes away from Tagbilaran City.

In his speech, Duterte said the new airport contributes to the creation of a "more robust society for all." (IN PHOTOS: Bohol-Panglao International Airport)

"[The new airport] would address the growing traffic congestion and accelerate economic growth in the region. [It would] make Bohol more accessible to the world with this new airport," the President said.

The airport, added Duterte, would allow more people to "experience the beauty of Panglao."

Panglao Island is among the rising tourism destinations in the country, with over 700,000 tourists there in 2017. (READ: Panglao: Riding the tourism cash cow)

The inauguration was witnessed by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and other government officials.

Long-delayed project

According to Tugade, the new Bohol airport has been delayed for 30 years. 

"Itong Panglao airport, after 30 long years walang nakatayong poste. Apat na gubernador at naka-dalawang groundbreaking, wala hong nangyari sa Panglao airport. Kaya siguro nung sinabi kong matatapos ang Panglao airport within two years, meron silang pag-aalinlangan," he said.

(The Panglao airport project has been delayed, with not a single post constructed after 30 long years. Four governors and two groundbreaking ceremonies had passed, but nothing happened. Maybe that's why when I said it would be done in two years, there were doubts.)

SECURITY CHECK. President Rodrigo Duterte submits himself for security inspection upon his arrival at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport for its inauguration on November 27, 2018. Malacau00f1ang photo

SECURITY CHECK. President Rodrigo Duterte submits himself for security inspection upon his arrival at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport for its inauguration on November 27, 2018.

Malacau00f1ang photo

In 2015, construction began following official development assistance of P8.91 billion from the Japanese government.

The Department of Transportation earlier said that when the Duterte administration took over in 2016, the project was 48% delayed.

The project was then fast-tracked for completion in 2018, ahead of the original target of 2021.

'Eco-friendly airport'

Tugade said on Tuesday that the country's "first eco-friendly airport" boasts a sewerage disposal system, solar power system, and rainwater catchment system.

According to the transportation chief, the current solar farm can power 30% of the total energy needs of the airport.

"Dinadasal namin na maging 100% ito upang maging self-sustaining ito," Tugade said. (We are hoping that it can power up to 100% of the total energy needs so it would become self-sustaining.)

He added that the airport's 2.8-kilometer runway can still be extended up to 3.2 kilometers.

There is also enough space to build another terminal, should expansion be needed, said Tugade.

The Bohol-Panglao International Airport can accommodate two million passengers yearly, more than double the decommissioned Tagbilaran Airport's capacity of 800,000. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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